OSPI, DEL and Thrive by Five Washington Release Kindergarten Assessment Results That Show Varied Skill Levels
Many students in state-funded full-day kindergarten are entering school with the characteristics we would expect from that age group, but opportunity gaps are evident

OLYMPIA (January 14, 2014) — A new round of data is now available that helps kindergarten teachers tailor instruction to the needs of individual students, begin meaningful conversations in communities about how to improve education, and 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 by October 31 of the 2013–14 school year. This is the second year such data have been collected.

The assessment is just one of three components that make up WaKIDS; the other two are the family connection and early learning collaboration.

“Teachers can learn a lot about their new students through WaKIDS and share that information with their students’ families,” State Superintendent Randy Dorn says. “This information can help teachers target their instruction as needed. Hopefully, by going through this process, families feel more connected to their child’s teacher and classroom. And this will lead to future school success.”

Kindergarten teachers and early learning providers can use this information to work together to ease students’ transition into the K-12 environment.

“The WaKIDS data are important for the early learning system so that we can ensure we are offering programs and services that promote school-readiness,” said Department of Early Learning Director Bette Hyde. “It is especially important that we look at the data as we strategize on closing the opportunity gap.”

“These insights enable teachers, families and communities to work together and take steps that will ensure every kindergarten child gets a great start in school," said Cory Sbarbaro, interim president and CEO of Thrive by Five Washington.

Participation rate
Starting in the fall of 2012, WaKIDS is required in all state-funded full-day kindergarten classrooms. The state Legislature doubled the number of students eligible for state-funded full-day kindergarten in the 2013-14 school year, which greatly increased WaKIDS participation.

It’s important to note two things:

  • As the percentage of students who participate in WaKIDS continues to increase, student demographics will change accordingly. Annual data are not comparable to previous data until all students participate.
  • The data gathered are 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.

WaKIDS was administered to 38,443 students this year, which is about 44 percent of all kindergarten students. The assessment was administered by 1,800 teachers in 550 schools that were located in 187 school districts.

Highs and lows
The data indicate that, of the students assessed, many are coming to school during their first several weeks of kindergarten with the characteristics we would expect from that age group. They are particularly well prepared in physical development, with 80 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 54 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.

Opportunity gap
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 ethnicity in each of the six areas assessed in WaKIDS. For instance, while 75 percent of assessed students demonstrated characteristics of entering kindergartners in cognitive development, the percentages ranged from 67 percent to 82 percent, depending on the racial group or ethnicity.

For more information

About DEL
The Department of Early Learning (DEL) was created in 2006 to help all Washington children reach their full potential. DEL oversees the state-funded preschool program, child care licensing and subsidies, early intervention services and other initiatives and programs to support parents as children’s first and most important teachers. http://www.del.wa.gov

About Thrive by Five Washington
On Jan. 1, 2014, Thrive by Five Washington and the Foundation for Early Learning — two leaders in Washington’s early learning efforts — merged with the goal of building community-wide commitment to deliver a comprehensive, high-quality early learning environment that benefits every child and family in Washington. Moving forward, Thrive will work in five key areas: helping to eliminate the opportunity gap with the state Early Learning Plan; deepening parent and caregiver knowledge of child development and school readiness; developing a high-quality home visiting system to serve at-risk families; providing grants that advance our programmatic work and mission; and building and mobilizing state, regional and local partnerships. http://thrivebyfivewa.org


About OSPI
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.

Twitter | Facebook | Flickr

Kristen Jaudon
Communications Specialist
(360) 725-6032

The OSPI Communications Office serves as the central point of contact for local, regional and national media covering K-12 education issues.

Communications Manager
Nathan Olson
(360) 725-6015


   Updated 1/14/2014

Old Capitol Building, PO Box 47200, 600 Washington St. S.E., Olympia, WA  98504-7200  360-725-6000  TTY 360-664-3631
Contact Us    |    A-Z Index    |    Site Info    |    Staff Only    |    Education Data System (EDS)