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General Assessment Guidance

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General Assessment Guidance

Throughout the summer, the CDE has continued its partnerships with each vendor or author of the approved kindergarten school readiness assessments to ensure tool-specific guidance. Through conversations with each of the authors, researchers, and with other states, several clear, overarching themes have emerged. These are outlined below. We will include more detail and examples in the coming weeks; however, 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 partnerships with families remain 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 in-person or face to face interactions.

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 a family lens or an at-home learning context 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 and hybrid learning models

Remote and hybrid 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 continue to be reliable, trained, and knowledgeable assessors. 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. If beginning the year in an in-person or hybrid model, 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. 

Anticipate that COVID related disruptions over the past 8 months will impact learning and development. Adjust and individualize instruction based on this assessment to increase intentionality. Additionally, use the assessment data to inform an individualized plan to monitor growth and continue to adjust instruction over time. Additional guidance will be available this fall to support school readiness plans.

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. 

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.