OSPI, DEL and Thrive by Five Washington Release Baseline Kindergarten Assessment Results That Show Varied Skill Levels
OLYMPIA — January 17, 2013 — New data is now available that will help kindergarten teachers tailor instruction to the needs of individual students, begin meaningful conversations in communities about how to improve education, and help inform state-level decisions about education policy and investments.
The data, which cover six areas of development and learning (social emotional, physical, language and cognitive development; literacy and math) were obtained from the “whole-child” assessment portion of the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS) conducted by kindergarten teachers within the first seven weeks of the 2012–13 school year. They were presented to the Legislature today by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), Department of Early Learning (DEL) and Thrive by Five Washington.
The assessment is just one of three components that make up WaKIDS; the other two are the family connection and early learning collaboration.
“It’s helpful to have a consistent way to measure these skills in schools across the state,” says State Superintendent Randy Dorn. “Teachers and families can use the information gathered from WaKIDS to see what students can do and what they need to learn as they enter the K–12 system.”
“WaKIDS is a critical part of our state’s early learning system,” Department of Early Learning Director Bette Hyde said. “We want to welcome families into the K–12 system from day one, bring early learning professionals to the table with K–12 educators, and gather information about children early on to support effective teaching and learning.”
“These data help open up the conversation between teachers and families, and early learning providers and kindergarten teachers about how to make sure every child gets a great start in school,” said Nina Auerbach, president and CEO of Thrive by Five Washington. “We’ve been waiting a long time for data to help us move forward and that provide us with invaluable information to close the opportunity gap. We now have an unparalleled opportunity to engage families, early learning professionals, kindergarten teachers and policy makers in prioritizing our investments for children where they’re needed most.”
WaKIDS was legislatively mandated in 2011 by SB 5427 to be implemented in all state-funded full-day kindergarten classrooms in fall 2012. WaKIDS was administered to 21,811 students during this baseline year, which is 27 percent of all kindergarten students. The assessment was administered by 1,003 teachers in 308 schools that were located in 102 school districts. In addition to students in schools with state-funded full-day kindergarten, approximately 5 percent of these students and teachers were in schools that volunteered to participate. Because the majority of the children assessed in 2012 were enrolled in state-funded, full-day kindergartens, the data gathered is not representative demographically of the state’s entering kindergartners, as a whole. Schools with the highest poverty levels have the highest priority for state-funded full-day kindergarten.
Twelve schools from five school districts received a waiver from the requirement to administer WaKIDS. As state funding becomes available to increase the number of full-day kindergarten classrooms, more students will participate in WaKIDS.
Highs and lows
The data indicate that, of the students assessed, many are coming to school during their first seven weeks of kindergarten with the characteristics we would expect from that age group. They are particularly well prepared in physical development, with 79 percent performing as expected, or better. Physical development includes skills such as jumping, galloping and skipping; throwing and catching a ball; and holding pencils, pens, crayons or other drawing and writing tools.
However, only 52 percent of those assessed demonstrated expected characteristics in math. Math includes skills such as counting to 20; comparing two groups of objects to decide which has more or less, or if they are equal; and beginning to understand measurement in the form of size, weight, area, and/or volume.
The data also show that the opportunity gap is evident in the first few weeks of kindergarten. The percentages of students demonstrating characteristics of entering kindergartners varied by race and gender in each of the six areas assessed in WaKIDS. For instance, while 71 percent of assessed students demonstrated characteristics of entering kindergartners in cognitive development, the percentages ranged from 62 percent to 80 percent, depending on the racial group or gender.
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine educational service districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.
OSPI provides equal access to all programs and services without discrimination based on sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. Questions and complaints of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Equity and Civil Rights Director at (360) 725-6162 or P.O. Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200.
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