District participates in kindergarten assessment pilot
Starting next year, the state is requiring a screener for all students coming into kindergarten, said Mendy Mills, the district’s instructional supervisor.
Along with a few other districts in the state, Madison County volunteered to participate in the pilot program for the new screener. Teachers were able to give feedback on their assessments, Mills said.
Falling in line with state data, around 60 percent of Madison County children entering kindergarten are not ready for kindergarten but are considered “ready with supports.” That means the children did not know everything on the assessment, Mills said.
“I don’t think that’s quite as alarming as that sounds,” she said. “Many of those children have not had access to preschool or daycare-type settings. And we know those age children get comfortable fast.”
If the assessment was redone six weeks into the school year “the results would be totally different,” Mills said.
The assessment also will allow the district to share data through the Early Childhood Alliance, a partnership between the school districts and local daycare centers to share information on kindergarten readiness.
Parents will be required to fill out a questionnaire about their child’s early childhood learning. The assessment will be shared with the daycare the child attended so they can work on certain areas at their center, Mills said.
However, teachers had concerns with the new assessment, she said, and “they felt like other assessments were much more valuable to them in their instruction.”
For example, “ready with supports” is a “huge range of the score,” Mills said. A child could have been in the 25th percentile and the 80th percentile and still be considered “ready with supports.”
Also, some of the questions on the assessment caused concern, she said. Such as, a child was asked to identify lower case letters and the first three letters were “d”, “b” and “p” — “those are common misconceptions for every child coming into kindergarten.”
Once the child missed three in a row, the instructions of the assessment were to not go any further, she said.
When children were asked to identify colors, they had to say “magenta.” Or, they were supposed to say “waist” when the teacher pointed to it, instead of “tummy” or “stomach.”
“Hopefully (the state) will listen to our concerns,” Mills said.