Learning Leader

Developing a New Literacy Screener for Our State

The Children’s Learning Institute (CLI) has a long history of partnership with the Texas Education Agency (TEA), supporting professional development, child progress monitoring, classroom resources, and many other tools available across the state. In recent years, CLI collaborated with TEA to disseminate all the Texas School Ready resources on CLI Engage to all public schools at no cost, developed new training for the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines and coaching, supported early childhood partnerships, and developed the Texas Kindergarten Entry Assessment (TX-KEA).

Expanding on our partnership, CLI is supporting TEA to implement several requirements of education-related legislation (House Bill 3) that passed in the most recent Texas legislative session. One component is the development of a new literacy screener for kindergarten classrooms, including a pilot study with Texas school districts across the state. This new literacy screener will be embedded into the TX-KEA on CLI Engage for Fall 2020.

In August 2017, CLI launched TX-KEA on our online platform CLI Engage, the culmination of four years of item development, validation, technology enhancements, and collaboration with TEA to launch a school readiness screener that can be reliably administered by kindergarten teachers in Texas. It covers multiple child development domains and better informs kindergarten teachers about the children in their classes, helping them to design more appropriate learning opportunities. Through grants from private foundations, TX-KEA has since been expanded to three waves of progress monitoring, for use throughout the school year, and is available at no cost to all Texas public schools.

The new literacy screener currently being developed at CLI is comprised of three measures already available at beginning-of-year: Vocabulary, Letter Knowledge, and Spelling. Meeting the state requirements for the literacy screener to measure language, early reading, and early writing development in a short 5-7-minute screener, CLI and TEA partnered to launch a pilot of new literacy screener in February 2020. More than 130 school districts are participating in the pilot, approximately 800 kindergarten teachers.

As part of the pilot, kindergarten teachers are completing the screener with at least five students in their classes of varying skill levels (low to high). Data collected through the pilot will be used be develop benchmarks for the screener, providing a new score for kindergarten readiness that can be used at the state-, region-, and district-level for teacher professional development and student support planning. Additionally, teachers are completing a feedback survey detailing their experience during the pilot; this information will be invaluable as CLI and TEA plan for the statewide implementation of the literacy screener in Fall 2020.

The finalized literacy screener will also feature updated parent reporting features, so teachers can talk to parents about how children are progressing throughout the school year, and our signature small grouping tool that provides links to small group activities from our CIRCLE Activity Collection, specially curated to support child skill development for those not yet meeting benchmarks. Through this partnership with TEA to expand TX-KEA, CLI is advancing towards one of our long-term goals to enhance CLI Engage and continue providing resources to schools across the state by developing comprehensive progress monitoring for prekindergarten through 2nd grade.

After the conclusion of the literacy screener pilot, CLI will launch a second kindergarten screener pilot, focused on dyslexia referral. Also part of the House Bill 3 requirements, a new dyslexia referral checklist will launch in the 2020-2021 school year for kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade, designed to support teachers in identifying students who may need further assessment. Learn more about TX-KEA and the resources that CLI is developing to support school districts in implementing House Bill 3 requirements on CLI Engage.


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