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Oregon Set to Pilot New Kindergarten Readiness Assessment Process

How to know when a child is ready for kindergarten?

That's what Oregon education officials expect to find out this fall when 16 elementary schools pilot a new kindergarten readiness assessment process that provides benchmarks and tracks students to see how many are ready for school. After evaluation, the assessment process is expected to be launched in the fall of 2013.

With the pilot procedure, Oregon joins other states nationwide that are developing ways to assess kindergarten readiness. The state currently does not have a uniform assessment for incoming kindergartners; it stopped surveying students in 2009 because officials were concerned about the validity and reliability of the results. However, school districts have been independently assessing students—a work group studying the issue for the past six months learned that about three-quarters of districts were using their own tools to assess students.

The creation of a kindergarten readiness assessment process is part of the state's ongoing education reform that includes an integrated education system stretching from preschoolers to students at age 20. "The Kindergarten Readiness Assessment stands between these two systems, offering an opportunity to look backwards to early childhood and forwards to K-12 and providing an opportunity to bridge the two worlds," said a report that the work group sent to the state's Early Learning Council last month.

The readiness assessment will evaluate kids in the following areas of development: social-emotional, self-regulation, approaches to learning, early literacy and early math, according to the work group report. But it is not intended to determine whether a child is eligible to enroll in kindergarten; rather it will measure a child's readiness, and "can play an important role in ensuring a smooth hand-off between early childhood programs and the K-12 system," the report said.

"The Kindergarten Readiness Assessment is both forward and backward looking, an opportunity to evaluate how well Oregon as a state is doing in preparing our youngest children for success in school and a time where we can assist parents, teachers, schools and communities in charting a path forward where all children succeed," the report said.


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