Research Behind Kindergarten Readiness
Kindergarten Readiness Assessments (KRA) Across the Nation
Now more than ever, researchers in the area of early childhood and elementary education are uncovering the importance of high-quality learning experiences that help children develop and be successful in school.
The Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Program (VKRP) is an initiative with the mission of providing more comprehensive kindergarten readiness data to teachers, administrators, and policy makers in Virginia. While Virginia has been successfully measuring children's readiness in the area of literacy for many years using PALS, it is now capable of using a multi-dimensional measure that includes a focus on mathematics, social skills, and self-regulation.
As of 2016, Virginia joins 43 other states across the nation that are either implementing or piloting a multi-dimension Kindergarten Readiness Assessment.
States who have either piloted or implemented a multi-dimensional kindergarten readiness assessment.
Readiness data are often used by schools to help teachers individualize instruction with the aim of closing early achievement gaps.
A Focus on Four Key Domains
Research is clear that in addition to strong literacy skills, children benefit from having strong skills in the areas of mathematics, self-regulation and social development. The mission of VKRP is to assess children across all of these critical domains as they enter kindergarten.
Kindergarten is the perfect time for young students to learn about mathematics and early exposure to this domain is critical. In fact, a child's early understanding of mathematical concepts is one of the strongest predictors of later academic success. And, the US Department of Education reports that career opportunities in STEM fields like mathematics will grow rapidly over the next decade. Despite these known benefits, early exposure to math concepts such as numeracy, operations, geometry, patterning, and measurement, varies widely among children as they enter kindergarten. For example, large-scale national studies have shown that only 8% of the preschool classroom day is spent on math. VKRP measures
a student's early understanding of mathematics upon entering kindergarten, so teachers can work to support and improve those skills throughout the year.
Self-regulation, the ability to control one's own emotions, behavior, and attention, is an aspect of development that is foundational to learning. Children who are able to regulate themselves more successfully, perform better in school both academically in areas like reading and math and as well as socially with their classmates and teachers. In early childhood, a child's ability to regulate is first guided by external regulation, such as a teacher providing cues and prompts to help a student remember what to do. Over time, by having on-going opportunities to practice skills that develop self-regulation, children begin to internalize these skills, learning how to stay focused and to persist during challenging tasks so they can learn more. VKRP measures
a student's self-regulation skills upon entering kindergarten using a short rating scale completed by the teacher.
Children's social skills, including their skills to cooperate and form relationships with adults and peers, are a cornerstone to their well-being, learning and success in school. Students rely on their teachers and other adults to help navigate the demands of school. Students often need to share and cooperate with each other as they engage in learning activities.
Early literacy skills are crucial for later reading success. Skills related to print and how books work, as well as phonological awareness, are important building blocks for learning to read VKRP works in collaboration with Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening
(PALS) to integrate information about kindergarten students' literacy skills with their math, self-regulation, and social skills.