Frequently Asked Questions about Kindergarten Entry Assessments

Research BriefEarly ChildhoodNov 9 2018

The foundation for school success begins early in a child’s life. Children learn from the time they are born, and their early childhood experiences shape their physical and language development, their cognition, and their social and emotional development. Children who enter kindergarten with low levels of these skills and abilities fall behind and struggle to catch up to their peers.

Over the  past decade, policymakers and other stakeholders have become increasingly interested in understanding the strengths and needs of kindergarteners. This understanding can help stakeholders (i.e., policymakers, state and local administrators, and teachers) better determine the supports and services that young children need prior to kindergarten to set them on a trajectory of success in school.

Assessments of children’s skills and abilities conducted at the  start of kindergarten—typically called Kindergarten Entry Assessments or Kindergarten Readiness Assessments (KEAs or KRAs)—are designed to measure important aspects of children’s development. These aspects include, for example, the ability to problem solve; complete tasks; communicate thoughts and emotions effectively; and recognize, comprehend, and use letters, sounds, words, and numbers in the right context. Often, these assessments also aim to measure children’s physical health and motor skills, such as their ability to run, jump, and write legible letters and numbers. Currently, 33 states require a kindergarten entry assessment, and many others are exploring or piloting a KEA.