The Partnership for Early Education Research (PEER) has released a new brief entitled Assessing Kindergarten Entry Skills in Connecticut: The Kindergarten Entrance Inventory, 2010-2013. This brief is the third publication based on PEER’s initial research, which was funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences. The study described in the brief came out of the desire to know more about the performance of preschool children across a variety of domains. Early childhood stakeholders also wanted to understand whether there were any group differences or community differences in performance.
In the absence of a common assessment of skills at preschool exit, PEER used the Connecticut Kindergarten Entrance Inventory (KEI) as an indicator of kindergarten readiness. Specifically, the study addresses three main questions:
- What is the overall performance of children on the KEI?
- Are there group differences in KEI scores?
- Are there district differences in KEI scores?
In the study, PEER compared KEI ratings among domains and over time. PEER also calculated each child’s average KEI rating across all domains and compared average KEI scores across demographic groups, in order to examine achievement gaps among groups as measured by average KEI scores. In addition, PEER used children’s average KEI ratings to examine differences by district type (categorized by size and by percentage of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch).
PEER’s analyses revealed that ratings of kindergarteners’ skills were stable between 2010/2011 and 2013/2014. Overall, teachers rated kindergarten students higher in creative/aesthetic and physical/motor skill domains than in other domains. Group differences in teacher ratings were also found based on child sex, race/ethnicity, English learner status, and free and reduced-price lunch status. Similarly, differences in teacher ratings were found among districts based on size and population characteristics. The brief includes discussion of the limitations and implications of the study.
Connecticut is often identified as a state with one of the largest achievement gaps in the country and research has shown that the achievement gap is often present when children are assessed at kindergarten entry[2, 3, 4]. Although Connecticut does not administer a standardized achievement test at school entry, kindergarten entry assessment data can help the state and its communities to understand and address group differences in school readiness and early student performance.
- Connecticut Commission on Education Achievement. Every child should have chance to be exceptional. Without exception: A plan to help close Connecticut's achievement gap. 2010. http://ctedreform.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/CCER_2012Report.pdf.
- Burchinal, M., et al., Examining the Black–White achievement gap among low‐income children using the NICHD study of early child care and youth development. Child development, 2011. 82(5): p. 1404-1420. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01620.x
- Nores, M. and W.S. Barnett, Access to high quality early care and education: Readiness and opportunity gaps in america (ceelo policy report). 2014, Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes: New Brunswick, NJ. http://www.ceelo.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/ceelo_policy_report_access_quality_ece.pdf.
- Reardon, S.F. and X.A. Portilla, Recent trends in income, racial, and ethnic school readiness gaps at kindergarten entry. AERA Open, 2016. 2(3): p. 2332858416657343. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/2332858416657343.