Kindergarten Readiness Assessment gains ground in Maryland
Maryland’s new Kindergarten Readiness Assessment, or KRA, is a comprehensive test that has been expanded to include one-on-one interaction with teachers and their students. The state has has assessed Kindergarten readiness for a decade, but the assessment was recently revised to meet Common Core standards.
All 3,500 kindergarten teachers are using the assessment, administered on an iPad, tablet or computer, designed to evaluate students in the areas of language, literacy, math, science and social studies and physical well-being.
Teachers are trained to observe the child’s “social foundations,” which include their behavior and ability to follow multi-step instructions, work collectively, complete tasks and relate to and interact with their peers.
Ms. Knight, a teacher at Parr’s Ridge in central Maryland, said, “Documenting all of this will be a challenge. But it seems really good. I think my students and their parents will benefit from this.”
Critics of the assessment point out a major downside to the test: its length. The assessment can take 40 minutes to an hour based on the child. This means in some schools, it will take days to get through a class.
Skepticism about tests for young children surfaced at a training session designed to introduce teachers to the new assessment. Teachers feared students beginning kindergarten would not know the test material because it hadn’t been taught to them yet.
The State Education Department, which received funding through federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grants, is working with Johns Hopkins University to collect and analyze data. The state plans to release its findings in March.
The KRA appears to be a helpful tool to assess student readiness and social foundations. While it does seem a bit cumbersome, I anticipate the findings will support the KRA in upcoming years.