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General Assessment Guidance

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General Assessment Guidance

As the CDE has continued its partnerships with each vendor, researcher, or author of the approved kindergarten school readiness assessments to ensure tool-specific guidance and collaborations with other states, several clear, overarching themes have emerged in the form of general guidance. These are outlined below. We encourage you to hold these in mind as you review guidance and plan for assessment.

Partner with families. Be mindful of burdens on families, but strong partnerships with families are an evidence-based strategy with positive impacts on student outcomes.

Start right away. Begin gathering evidence right away, with special attention to planning for areas that may benefit from multiple observations or documentation over time.

Strengthen the connection between assessment and instruction. Intentionally plan instruction, assignments, and activities as opportunities to learn more about what young children know and are able to do.

Do more with less. Expand instruction, assignments, and activities to layer opportunities to gather evidence across learning and development domains.

Provide multiple opportunities. Continue providing varied opportunities for students to demonstrate their skills and knowledge.

Remember the purpose of assessment. Assessment is a process of supporting each child's learning by identifying needs and monitoring trends.

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School Readiness Domains of Learning and Development

Physical well-being and motor development
This includes a child’s ability to use small and large muscles to engage in learning activities and to meet his/her own needs.

Social and emotional development
This includes a child’s ability to follow limits, persist with learning tasks, make friends and take care of his or her own needs – all of which are important skills that contribute to the ability to participate effectively in a classroom environment.

Language and comprehension development
This includes a child’s ability to listen and understand, to express his/her thoughts and needs and to engage in appropriate conversations.

Cognition
This includes being able to solve problems, use symbols, and organize information that set the stage for later academic learning. 

General Knowledge
The Colorado State Board of Education defines this as Literacy and Math. For more information, visit the Early Childhood Assessment webpage.

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Intentional Planning for Collecting Evidence

Teaching and learning begin and continue from the first days of school. In planning curriculum, also plan for documenting primary and any applicable secondary assessment items using the guidance documents and resources provided by the school readiness assessment tool authors. 

Plan when lessons, routines, and assignments will provide opportunities for students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in a variety of ways. In doing so, consider when the skills, knowledge and abilities occur naturally, when an established routine would facilitate this, or when the addition of a family lens might be valuable. 

This may include: 

  • Interactive times such as large group, small group, and one-on-one sessions
  • Independent Work
  • Family check-ins and dialogue

To ensure students have multiple opportunities to demonstrate their skills, plan opportunities for students to express and represent what they know and can do in a variety of ways, and plan opportunities to engage with students in secure ways.

Impacts of remote learning models

Remote learning models change the context but may still include each of these categories. For example:

  • Interactive sessions: virtual conferencing might occur in lieu of in-person sessions
  • Independent work: asynchronous activities might be posted on virtual learning or communication sharing platforms, i.e., Seesaw, ClassDojo, or Google Classroom
  • Family check-ins and dialogue: virtual conferencing, virtual office hours, or text/email communications might be used to support interactions with families

To decrease family burden, consider using a consistent virtual platform for sharing and communicating with families. If using a virtual communication platform offered through an assessment vendor, please see the Assessment webpage for further information on guidance to provide parents and privacy and security statements from applicable vendors.

Plan how evidence will be collected within routines and lessons. Within each domain, plan for collecting a variety of evidence. This may include collecting and organizing work and language samples, collecting photo and video documentation, creating tools for recording observations, sourcing tutorials for family communication platforms, and planning prompts for family dialogue. Increasing intentionality maximizes available time with each child in any learning model. 

Some districts have categorized assessment items for ease of embedding within continual planning. Two methods of categorizing currently used include:

Categorizing by when to observe or collect documentation, for example:

Daily routine, lesson, or activity

  • Morning meeting

Collect evidence towards:

  • Social-emotional check-ins
  • Language

Categorizing by what assessment item(s) to observe or collect documentation toward, for example:

Assessment item

  • Retelling stories

Daily routine, lesson, or activity

  • One-on-one sessions
  • Small group for literacy
  • Writing assignment

For detailed examples, visit the Assessment webpage for vendor-specific resources connecting opportunities to gather and document evidence with instructional activities and routines.

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Reviewing the evidence, assessing and scoring

Teachers are the reliable, trained, and knowledgeable assessors. Setting expectations to maintain inter-rater reliability on the assessment tool through ongoing training maintains the reliability of the assessment data and aids in ensuring equitable observations and documentation. Continuously analyze the available documentation for each child and modify weekly assessment plans to ensure completeness. Additionally, review collected evidence and modify future planning based on equity, family burden, and variation of opportunities for students to demonstrate knowledge and skills. 

Continue to plan, prioritize, and collect evidence throughout the assessment window. Kindergarten school readiness assessments provide opportunities for students to demonstrate their knowledge skills and abilities as they enter kindergarten. If maintaining in-person learning is uncertain, adjust assessment planning to immediately begin collecting documentation and evidence toward those domains that may be more challenging or require more family effort in the event the learning model changes within the assessment window.

Analyze the available documentation for each child and finalize scores for data respondents. Follow tool guidance and local procedures for students who are not present or active in their learning model, or who are not present long enough for a complete assessment. 

Continue using observations and documentation to inform instruction. Anticipate that COVID related disruptions over the past year may impact both learning and development. Research studying the impact of past disruptions to education suggests it took 2 years to resolve the greatest gaps in learning and development between a typical pre-disruption cohort and post-disruption cohorts with individualized learning. Additionally, school readiness and learning varied beyond any one common factor creating a need to assess school readiness as students returned, and to continue assessing to inform instruction. This informed instruction prioritized individualized learning and emphasized social emotional learning and support.

This research heightens the continual need to adjust and individualize instruction based on assessment data and to use data from multiple assessments to inform an individualized plan that monitors growth over time. School and district leadership's review of individual plans can inform allocation of resources to ensure necessary materials, personnel, and supports are available to teachers and staff to meet each child where they are at.

For additional guidance on supporting the connection of assessment data in kindergarten and developing individual student plans, visit the READ Plans webpage.

For more information:

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Resources:

The contents of this guidance were compiled as a resource as a result of extensive dialogue and conversations with assessment vendors and authors, multiple cross-state collaborations, and work sessions with Colorado districts. 

References:

CCSSO. 2011. Moving forward with kindergarten readiness assessment efforts: a position paper of the early childhood education state collaborative on Assessment and student standards. Washington, DC: CCSSO

CCSSO. 2018. Revising the Definition of Formative Assessment. Washington, DC: CCSSO. 

Garcia, M. & Weiss, E. (2020). COVID-19 and student performance, equity, and U.S. education policy: Lessons from pre-pandemic research to inform relief, recovery, and rebuilding. Economic Policy Institute.

Harris, D.N. and Larsen, M.F. (2019). The effects of the New Orleans Post-Katrina Market-Based School Reports on Medium-Term Student Outcomes. Education Research Alliance for New Orleans.

Hill, P. (2020). What Post-Katrina New Orleans Can Teach Schools About Addressing COVID Learning Losses.

NAEYC. 2018. Spotlight on young children: Observation and assessment. Washington, DC: NAEYC Books.

Samuel, A., and Tarasawa, B. 2020. The COVID-19 slide and what it could mean for student achievement. Education Commission of the States.