Learning Leader

TX-KEA: Where They Start Shapes Where We Go

Millions of children start kindergarten each year but not all of them start on an equal playing field. Some come from high quality preschool programs, while others have had very little to no quality instruction by no fault of their own. Various influences such as environmental, biological and socioeconomic factors can affect how children learn and how prepared they are entering kindergarten each fall. The Texas Kindergarten Assessment System (TX-KEA) was designed to help give teachers the tools they need in order to assess each child to make sure no child falls behind.

The Texas Kindergarten Assessment System (TX-KEA) is a collaborative effort between the US Department of Education, the Texas Education Agency, and the Children’s Learning Institute at UTHealth. TX-KEA is a comprehensive, time-efficient kindergarten screener developed by child development and assessment experts at The University of Texas Health Science Center's Children's Learning Institute. TX-KEA's purpose is to determine whether students have met specified developmental benchmarks and academic competencies upon kindergarten entry as outlined by state guidelines. Sophisticated reporting features allow educators to use TX-KEA's data to drive instructional planning. Because TX-KEA was developed with federal and state funds, districts can access the screener and its reporting features at no cost. This project works to enhance the quality and variety of assessment instruments and systems available for use by Texas’ 1,247 school districts, which serve up to 400,000 new kindergarten students each year. Our goal is to develop a comprehensive screening tool that can be reliably administered by kindergarten teachers, be a valid predictor of later academic success, and is integrated into TEA’s longitudinal assessment system. Investigators and consultants have collaboratively constructed test items that evaluate a broad range of school readiness skills. While TX-KEA will have the ability to evaluate many learning areas critical for academic success, only some of these areas are required to meet state guidelines. Teachers have the ability to screen additional areas depending on the needs and abilities of the child.

The TX-KEA learning areas include vocabulary, listening comprehension, letter knowledge, phonological awareness, early writing, mathematics, science and engineering, gross and fine motor, social competence, self-regulation and emotion understanding.

What is TX-KEA ?

TX-KEA is….

  • a comprehensive school readiness screening assessment to be given to children at the beginning of kindergarten by teachers
  • being developed in English and Spanish and will allow adaptations for children with special needs
  • designed to inform instruction
  • a web-based reporting system to help teachers make effective use of the results
  • a combination of teacher-administered direct assessments, child-paced direct assessments, and teacher surveys/observation tool
  • a system that will link data to the Texas Education Agency's Texas Student Data System (TSDS)
  • being developed for use on several platforms and devices, including laptops and tablets at no cost
  • a time-efficient assessment that will allow assessment of all areas within 45 minutes
  • a system that will provide reports to parents, teachers, and school district personnel
  • being developed with an effective web-based training for teachers
  • one of many screening instruments that schools can choose to use at kindergarten entry


  • an intelligence test
  • a high stakes test
  • a language proficiency test
  • an assessment to evaluate the performance of kindergarten or pre-k teachers
  • a system to determine certification of early childhood programs
  • a system to replace teacher progress monitoring across the school year

TX-KEA is being designed to give teachers meaningful information in a convenient and cost-efficient way. The assessment will be available for free to all public schools throughout the state beginning Fall 2017 on the CLI Engage platform. The Texas School Ready outreach team will be traveling to all 20 ESC’s around Texas for TX-KEA launch events this spring. The kickoff launch event will be held in Austin on February 22, 2017. Click here to find an event near you!


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Children's Learning Institute at UTHealth
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