An Examination of the Oregon Kindergarten Assessment
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A surge of interest has emerged across the US in high-quality early childhood education programs that prepare children for success in school and later years. In particular, attention has been focused on the kindergarten year as having important consequences for a child’s acquisition of knowledge and skills that determine later school success. However, children begin kindergarten with a diverse array of skills and experiences, including many who have not been enrolled in any preschool programs outside the home environment. State kindergarten entry assessments can provide baseline information to help teachers target instruction and assist in meeting child learning benchmarks. In fall of 2013, school districts in Oregon began administering the Oregon Kindergarten Assessment (OKA) to all entering kindergarten students. Administered within the first six weeks of school, the OKA includes measures in early literacy, early math, and approaches to learning. This study explored student performance on the OKA as well as its utility as perceived by Oregon kindergarten teachers. Specifically, the following questions were asked: (1) Are there significant differences in children’s performance on the OKA based on demographic characteristics? (2) What is the performance of children previously receiving Early Childhood Special Education on the OKA? and (3) What is the utility of the OKA, as evaluated by kindergarten teachers? Data collected by the Oregon Department of Education were used, as well as data from kindergarten teacher interviews. Results of the study reinforce what is known about the opportunity gap among young children prior to entering kindergarten, as well as provide insight on how the intended purposes of the OKA are being met. Findings may assist administrators, teachers, parents, and policy makers in understanding current use of the OKA as well as assisting with future steps to modify curriculum, instructional methodology, teacher training, and transition practices.