Maryland State Department of Education

Abstract – Enhanced Assessment Instruments Grants Program—
Kindergarten Entry Assessment Competition

Overview of the proposed project
The proposed Consortium of seven States (Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland [fiscal agent], Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, and Ohio) and three partner organizations (WestEd, the Johns Hopkins University Center for Technology in Education, and the University of Connecticut’s Measurement, Evaluation, and Assessment Program) has a compelling vision for enhancing a multistate, state-of-the-art assessment system composed of a kindergarten entry assessment (KEA) and aligned formative assessments. This enhanced system—supported by expanded use of technology and targeted professional development— provides valid and reliable information on each child’s learning and development across the essential domains of school readiness; this information will lead to better instruction, more informed decision-making, and reductions in achievement gaps. The Consortium recognizes that achieving this vision will be challenging, requiring high levels of commitment, technical expertise, collaboration across member States and partners, and strong management skills, systems, and supports. Building on a highly successful existing effort already underway between Maryland and Ohio, the proposed enhanced system greatly expands the use of technology for more authentic and compelling items and tasks; efficiency of administration, scoring, and reporting; and increased student motivation. The end result will be a more reliable and valid system that provides timely, actionable data to identify individual student and program strengths and weaknesses, drive instruction, support curricular reform, and inform all stakeholders in the system about the effectiveness of preschool and kindergarten programs.

Project objectives and activities

  • Establish the governance and management infrastructure for the proposed work;
  • Develop the KEA and formative assessments (for children aged 36–72 months), to be fully implemented in all Consortium States;
  • Conduct all necessary and appropriate studies to ensure reliability, validity, and fairness of the assessment system;
  • Develop and implement professional development for the administration and use of the assessments;
  • Develop and deploy the necessary technology infrastructure; and
  • Implement stakeholder communication to measure the impact of the KEA and formative assessments on the efficacy of learning.

Proposed project outcomes
By the 2016–17 school year, the Consortium will provide an assessment system that:

  • includes strategic use of a variety of item types to assess all of the essential domains of school readiness, with each domain making a significant contribution to students’ overall comprehensive scores;
  • produces reliable, valid, and fair scores, for individual children and groups/subgroups, that can be used to evaluate school readiness, guide individualized instruction, and better understand the effectiveness and professional-development needs of teachers, principals, and early-learning providers;
  • is designed to incorporate technology in the assessment process and the collection of data and that is cost-effective to administer, maintain, and enhance; and
  • includes a KEA that can be a component of a State’s student assessment system, including the State’s comprehensive early learning assessment system, and can provide data that can be incorporated into a State’s longitudinal data system.

North Carolina Department of Public Instruction

Abstract – Enhanced Assessment for the Consortium (EAC) Project
Submitted by North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction
(CFDA 84.368A)

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NC DPI) along with 8 other Consortium states (AZ, DE, DC, IA, ME, ND, OR, RI), one collaborating state (SC), and three research partners, SRI International, the BUILD initiative, and Child Trends, will enhance NC’s K-3 formative assessment which includes a Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA). The Consortium believes that a KEA as part of a K-3 formative assessment will provide more meaningful and useful information for teachers than a stand-alone KEA. The Consortium proposes to enhance the K-3 assessment including the KEA because a single snapshot of how a child is functioning at kindergarten entry will have limited value and create an implementation challenge since teachers prefer information that can guide instruction for the entire school year. Furthermore, a good KEA must include content that extends beyond kindergarten to capture the skills of higher functioning children so enhancing an assessment that covers kindergarten entry through Grade 3 produces a significantly more useful assessment at marginal additional costs.

The NC K-3 assessment being developed under their RTT-ELC grant will be enhanced by: (a) aligning the content of the NC assessment to standards across the Consortium and enhancing the validity of the assessment through evidence-centered design (ECD) and universal design for learning (UDL); (b) incorporating smart technologies for recording and reporting to reduce assessment burden on teachers; and (c) expanding the utility of the assessment to a broader range of users by soliciting and incorporating input from stakeholders in the other Consortium states into the design of the assessment.  The project will be led by NC DPI with a management team that includes the three research partners (SRI, BUILD and Child Trends) who will work together provide overall leadership and coordination to the project. Project work has been organized around seven major activity areas: (1) overall project management; (2) across- and within-state stakeholder engagement including support for implementation planning; (3) application of ECD/UDL to the assessment content; (4) enhancement of professional development materials; (5) pilot and field testing; (6) psychometric analyses and performance levels; and (7) technology. Each activity team will be led by either NC DPI or one of the research partners and many of the teams will include staff from more than one organization to facilitate cross-project coordination.  The Consortium states will play a significant role in the development of the enhanced assessment.  All Consortium states will undertake Tier 1 activities including participating in regular consortium calls and meetings; sharing state-developed early childhood and K-3 assessment-related materials including standards; providing input into the review of assessment-related materials; and conducting broad stakeholder outreach activities. Some Consortium states will engage in additional Tier 2 activities including participating in the ECD/UDL co-design teams; pilot testing the assessment content; pilot testing the assessment supports such as technology enhancements and reporting formats; field testing the assessment; convening state experts to review assessment-related materials; and conducting more in depth stakeholder engagement activities.

The primary outcome of this project will be an enhanced formative K-3 assessment that includes a KEA that provides powerful information for improving student outcomes. The EAC will be a developmentally appropriate, observation-based formative assessment based on learning progressions that teachers use to guide instruction across the five domains of development and learning. Smart technologies built into the EAC will assist teachers with documentation and scoring, minimizing teacher burden, increasing reliability, and maximizing the EAC’s utility so that teachers can use it on a regular basis to inform instruction. Additionally, the EAC will provide meaningful and useful information to the students and families. Students will receive developmentally appropriate information to show where they are in their learning and where they need to go next. Families will contribute evidence for the assessment and will receive information to assist in supporting their child’s development and learning. Finally, the KEA will produce a child profile of scores across the five domains. The KEA child profile data will be useful in the aggregate for principals, district and regional administrators, state policymakers, and advocates to inform programmatic decisions around curriculum, professional development, policy development, and resource allocation. In addition, the KEA will be the first assessment point within a K-3 formative assessment system that will inform instruction and learning, improving student achievement.

Texas Education Agency

Abstract: The Texas Kindergarten Entry Assessment System:
Proposed by the Texas Education Agency

The Texas Education Agency (TEA), in collaboration with The University of Texas Health Science Center’s Children’s Learning Institute (CLI) – and backed by the Texas Association of School Boards, the Texas Association of School Administrators, and a network of renowned experts from the University of Miami, New York University, the University of Denver, the University of Virginia, the University of Texas at Austin, Michigan State University, and Kansas University – proposes to implement an ambitious and achievable Texas Kindergarten Entry Assessment System (TX-KEA) that enhances the quality and variety of assessment instruments and systems used by Texas’ 1,227 school districts serving 5,075,840 total students, including up to 400,000 incoming kindergarten students across 4,342 elementary campuses, annually.

The TEA, throughout this proposal, has set the bar high in terms of its six proposed goals for its assessment system. These goals revolve around providing innovative and flexible, technology-driven assessment solutions designed to measure student achievement at kindergarten entry across multiple domains. Addressing the U.S. Department of Education’s Absolute Priorities 1, 2, 4, and 5, these goals include: (1) construct item pools with good content validity for assessing nine domains of school readiness in English or Spanish; (2) scale items within a heterogeneous sample of socio-linguistically diverse students; (3) select items for paper-pencil and computerized versions; (4) evaluate reliability, validity, sensitivity, and fairness of the TX-KEA; (5) develop a technology platform for the TX-KEA and integrate with the state’s longitudinal data system; and (6) develop, launch, and coordinate a comprehensive information and training system for teachers and administrators.

This proposal is anchored in an understanding of the assessment needs of Texas and other states. Through a systematically designed risk and project management approach, TEA and its collaborators will develop assessment and data reporting solutions that optimize outcomes for schools, teachers, administrators, parents, community stakeholders, and ultimately, children. TEA has assembled an experienced team with the full array of expertise and experience required to develop and implement the TX-KEA successfully. We have proposed an officer-incharge, Dr. Susan Landry, who has worked across the nation to advance changes in assessment, teaching, and learning, which have led to unprecedented achievements for school leaders, teachers, families, and children. We also have proposed a project director, Dr. Jason Anthony, who is a renowned expert in language and literacy as well as the development and implementation of cutting-edge assessments. Additional experts with exceptional technical knowledge and skills, and academic faculty with strong experience and expertise in assessment and child development complement the team.

Building on a national reputation for high-quality early childhood education – as evidenced by the success of the Texas School Ready! Project, one of the nation’s only scaled, comprehensive school readiness interventions – combined with the successful development and launch of its innovation longitudinal data initiative, the Texas Student Data System (TSDS), TEA is poised to lead the nation and benefit other states by building a kindergarten entry assessment system that will promote comprehensive analyses of student school readiness and support the ability of teachers, administrators, and parents to be responsive to multiple domains of student strengths and needs.