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Chicago to measure kindergarten readiness

Preparing students for kindergarten is the paramount goal of preschool programs.This Spring, the district will roll out the most ambitious initiative yet to gauge whether preschools are succeeding at that task.

Preparing students for kindergarten is the paramount goal of preschool
programs. This Spring, the district will roll out the most ambitious
initiative yet to gauge whether preschools are succeeding at that task.

CPS will pilot a draft kindergarten readiness measurement tool this spring, says Karen Carradine, director of assessment and accountability for the CPS Office of Early Childhood. The new assessment will mark the first time the district will formally measure students’ school readiness.

Assessment will be done by teachers observing their students over time; the tool is not a standardized test, which some early childhood experts say is not appropriate for young children.

The tool will be used with all 4-year-old preschoolers who will be moving to kindergarten in the fall.

The district will survey kindergarten teachers this fall “to ascertain that they look for the same type of skill sets” that the tool measures, Carradine says. For example, Carradine says, the tool may measure students’ understanding of rhymes. Can they identify which words rhyme? Do they initiate the use of rhyming words themselves, or only when prompted by a teacher?

“We want to make sure preschool is offering the right set of predecessor skills that are going to be necessary in kindergarten,” Carradine adds.

Ultimately, the goal is to align preschool and kindergarten curricula so that gains in preschool aren’t lost over time.

The new tool is being rolled out at a critical time for one of the nation’s largest preschool programs, Head Start, which serves nearly a million children nationwide and 16,500 in Chicago. Recently, a major study found that the program’s gains fade quickly once students enter school—a finding that could put Head Start and other preschool efforts in jeopardy. 

Initially, children who attended Head Start scored higher on school readiness measures than students in a control group, according to the study conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Researchers examined performance of youngsters who attended the program in the 2002-03 school year.

At the end of kindergarten and 1st grade, Head Start graduates were nearly indistinguishable from other students on many measures.

Some experts question the study’s results, noting that kindergarteners and 1st-graders aren’t ready to take or be judged by standardized tests.

Others note that in isolation, Head Start can’t counteract other factors, such as poorly-performing elementary schools, that come into play.

“We lose control when they get into kindergarten and 1st grade,” says Adrienne M. Stewart, citywide program manager for CPS Head Start programs.

Carradine adds that without alignment of curricula, the concept measuring long-term gains from a short-term program can be problematic.

“I think Head Start is responsible for when they have the kids in front of them,” she says. “(After that), anything that’s not nurtured can fade.”

The kindergarten readiness tool developed by CPS might also help answer the question of whether half-day programs like Head Start are intensive enough to prepare students for school.

The limited amount of programming provided to Head Start students – just twelve hours a week of instruction – could be one reason for its lack of lasting gains, says Gillian McNamee, the Erikson Institute’s director of teacher education.


“It’s like taking a child who is very thin, giving them saltines once a day, and (asking for) improvement in diet and overall health,” she says. “It is not going to counterbalance all of the challenges children and families have.”

It’s still unclear how the Head Start Impact Study will affect public perception of government-funded early childhood programs, which have gained acceptance in recent years.

“The data and the tools are not designed to give us that kind of cut-and-dried verdict,” McNamee says. “In our society, the pendulum can go either way: Head Start doesn’t work, or Head Start and Preschool for All are very important building blocks. We see both sides, in both the scholarship and the public debate.”


missing info and MORE testing? wrote 4 years 50 weeks ago

Chicago to measure kindergarten readiness

Yet another test pre-kand K students--great! Only to waste time than spending it on instruction. Missing info? CPS kindergarden is only 2.3 hrs. long per day, 31-33 students per session, and 1 teacher with NO aide.
WAKE Up Ms. Carradine and Office EAC. When was the last time you taught in one of these classes for 1 week? 1 day? 1/2 day?

Assessment Crap MO Money for parasites .. wrote 4 years 50 weeks ago

Chicago to measure kindergarten readiness

The parasites will be getting paid on another bogus assessment. Too many managers and administrators covering their butt by mandating junk. Spend the money on something that will be useful to the teaches and students. Why don't this managers and administrators have a serious talk, a heart to heart with the teachers in the classroom. They won't, Tey are afraid!

OMG wrote 4 years 50 weeks ago

Chicago to measure kindergarten readiness

Are you kidding? Rhymes? Some of these kids have been listening to rap music in utero. What happens if the rhythm challenged kids on the north side fail this? Bet this "assessment" will find it's way into the trash bin with no so much as a peep!!! Leave these babies alone and bring back the sandboxes and playhouses so they learn how to play with each other instead of play fighting!

Seems like these geniuses downtown are wasting my tax dollars and the head genius is grasping at straws. Don't kindergarten teachers have enough to do???

more data? wrote 4 years 50 weeks ago

Chicago to measure kindergarten readiness

Is there additional data on Prek/Headstart students achievement from 3rd grade on? I have read research that the gains these students have over non-prek students becomes apparent after 3rd grade. Of course, then you have several more factors that contribute to their success.

prekteacher wrote 4 years 50 weeks ago

Another test!

Both kindergarten and pre-k students are already being subjected to numerous tests - why not compare the results of those rather than adding another test to the pile?

No one does this assessment crap in the modern western world wrote 4 years 49 weeks ago

Chicago to measure kindergarten readiness

It is now certifiable that the folks at the top are dumb as all get out! Such assessments are not done by any high performing school district! Any reputable assessment expert and teacher will tell you that this is a big waste of our money. Will the final nails going into public education be done under Obama's watch. A waste of tax payer money! There should be an investigation into this!

see them in action wrote 4 years 49 weeks ago

Chicago to measure kindergarten readiness

anyone who wants to see central office hacks in action come down to a school closing hearing. they all read from scripts and are afraid to talk to the public participants. it is a stark contrast to the teachers, union members, parents, students and community members who come and testify without scripts and 100k salaries. you see passion, freedom and truth.

CPS Closing Hearings

check out pictures of them sitting getting paid to watch people fighting for what is right.

McCorkle ES Consolidation Hearing 1/29/2010

Las Casas HS Closing Hearing 1/29/2010

Guggenheim ES Closing Hearing 1/28/10

Curtis ES Closing Hearing 01/28/10

Derrick Harris Testifies for Las Casas 01/29/2010

George Schmidt Testifies Las Casas 01/29/2010

Jonathan Jackson Fights for Guggenheim 1/28/10

robert jones wrote 4 years 48 weeks ago

Chicago to measure kindergarten readiness

Because of all the data driven and performance management; it's like working for a business; not a school system. Teachers see and observe their children every day. Children learned better when teachers were Allowed to teach; and was not scripted. More time is spent reaching deadline; assessing before allowing teachers to really teach their students. It is a sad thing. This is the reason children are failing. Give teachers a goal; and ALLOW them to take their students there. Teachers are suffering because they know students are going to fail. More time is spent on standing in the middle of the floor while someone snatches your door open and sit down to write about them. Meanwhile student's behaviors at the schools are being masked. It is a struggling job when you are not given the supplies; inclusion has returned; and the teacher is Not allow to teach. Again; they are performing. So, now teachers are losing sleep worrying about how their performance will be the next day. I applaud the states who are not accepting funding from Race to the Top. It's like begging on your knees for money. And have to abide by certain santions or there won't be any money. Then why is Crime so high if there are some good teachers? Very sad. Please allow teachers to teach. Spend money on giving classrooms supplies for their students to use. Bring back teacher assistants; then schools will become better. Let the teachers teach. Just everyday common sense.

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