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New WaKIDS Data Show Varied Skill Levels of Entering Kindergartners
Opportunity gaps are evident

OLYMPIA — January 22, 2015 — A new round of data from the fall 2014 administration of the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS) is now available. 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 WaKIDS conducted by kindergarten teachers by October 31 of the 2014–15 school year. This is the third 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.

“WaKIDS is more than an assessment of where kids start off in kindergarten,” State Superintendent Randy Dorn says. “It helps teachers learn about their new students so they can tailor their instruction. And we hope it helps families feel more connected to their child’s teacher and classroom. Family involvement is an important part of 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.

“WAKIDS provides not only information about skills of entering kindergartners, but also data about the impact of our early learning programs,” said Department of Early Learning Director Bette Hyde. “We need to expand on what is working well and change what is not, so that children enter kindergarten healthy, capable, confident, and ready to learn.”

“We know all kids don’t get the same start in life, and these data make it abundantly clear that we have an opportunity gap in our state that must be addressed,” said Sam Whiting, president and CEO of Thrive Washington. “This gap can be seen as early as 9 months old. It leads to the achievement gap in K-12 and then the income gap in adulthood. We must work together to reduce this opportunity gap, so that every child gets a great start in school and life.”

Participation rate
WaKIDS is required in all state-funded full-day kindergarten classrooms. In previous years, some state-funded classrooms requested waivers from participating. This year marks the first time no waivers were granted.

It’s important to note two things:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 43,298 students this year, which is about 52 percent of all kindergarten students. The assessment was administered by 2,110 teachers in 623 schools that were located in 193 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. This year, the area of literacy tops the list with 79.1 percent of students performing as expected, or better. “Literacy” includes skills such as recognizing and naming as many as 10 letters, thinking up rhyming words, and retelling some events from a familiar story.

Incoming kindergartners continue to struggle with math: Only 52.9 percent of those assessed demonstrated expected characteristics. “Math” includes skills such as counting to 10; 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 continue 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 example, while 74.1 percent of assessed students demonstrated characteristics of entering kindergartners in cognitive development, the percentages ranged from 62.6 percent to 80 percent, depending on the racial group or ethnicity.

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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.

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Kristen Jaudon
Communications Specialist
360.725.6032 |

Molly O’Connor, Thrive by Five Communications Director
206-621-5562 |

Mark Varadian, Department of Early Learning Communications Manager
360-725-4392 |

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 1/22/2015

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