The Texas Education Agency, in collaboration with the Children’s Learning Institute at UTHealth, received an award from the US Department of Education to develop the Texas Kindergarten Entry Assessment (TX-KEA). This assessment is being designed for use by educators to screen children’s school readiness upon their entry into kindergarten. TX-KEA will help schools determine whether students have mastered developmental benchmarks, as described in the Texas PreK Guidelines and the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). This point-in-time snapshot of each student’s competencies will inform instruction and identify whether additional diagnostic assessment is needed.
This project promises 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. Goals of the project are to develop a comprehensive screening tool which can be reliably administered by kindergarten teachers, is a valid predictor of later academic success, and is integrated into TEA’s longitudinal assessment system.
Investigators and consultants will collaboratively construct test items that evaluate a broad range of school readiness skills. TX-KEA will be “comprehensive” in that it will evaluate many learning domains critical for academic success:
Separate English and Spanish versions of TX-KEA will be developed. TX-KEA is being designed from its outset to meet the need for a comprehensive screening tool that demonstrates good psychometric properties and the need of school districts to have cost effective alternatives that provide meaningful results. Including both teacher-completed checklists and individually-administered assessments for children, TX-KEA will be available on multiple forms of technology, e.g., PC, tablet, etc.
In Phase 1 DEVELOPMENT, the research team will develop a variety of testing procedures, testing materials, and preliminary test items that provide coverage of the full continuum of Kindergarten children’s knowledge and abilities in oral language, letter knowledge, phonological awareness, mathematics, science/engineering, approaches to learning, motor coordination, executive functioning, and social-emotional competencies.
In Phase 2 PILOT STUDY, initial tasks will be piloted with a sample of approximately 75 Kindergarteners.
Revised procedures and a large pool of potential test items will be administered to 2,000 children in Phase 3 SCALING STUDY, which will span approximately two years. Half of the participants in Phase 3 will be monolingual English speakers and half will be monolingual or bilingual speakers of Spanish. English and Spanish versions will assess the full range of kindergartners’ abilities in each domain of school readiness.
Finally, Phase 4 VALIDITY STUDY will involve a longitudinal validity study with approximately 200 Kindergarten children. Specifically, TX-KEA and standardized norm-referenced measures will be administered to 200 students (100 Spanish and 100 English speakers) in the fall to examine validity. Norm-referenced measures will be administered in the spring to evaluate predictive validity.
The investigative team recognizes that a screening product is only as good as the procedures developed to train users in how to administer the assessment and how to use the reporting functionalities. Therefore, we also plan to develop an appropriate training module for teachers to learn how to administer this assessment, to ensure that it is administered consistently throughout the state.
Throughout the course of the project’s duration, we will develop and test a technology platform that provides a secure, accessible environment to host the TX-KEA, collects assessment data, and integrates the data into the state’s longitudinal data system, TSDS, which will be enhanced to provide requisite reporting to teachers and schools throughout Texas.
The Texas Education Agency is located in Austin, Texas. Researchers for this study are located at UTHealth in Houston, Texas. Assessments will be conducted in various school districts and sites throughout Texas.