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Kindergarten students in NC to face new standardized test next year

In the future, kindergarten students at Ashley Park K-8 will go through a standard assessment in their first weeks of school.
In the future, kindergarten students at Ashley Park K-8 will go through a standard assessment in their first weeks of school. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Kindergarten students across North Carolina will go through a new standardized test next year that gauges their intellectual and physical development as they enter school for the first time.

Yes, another new test even as Gov. Pat McCrory and other lawmakers have talked about figuring out ways to reduce the number of statewide tests that teachers are required to give. This one, however, promises to help teachers get to know their classes better rather than being a high-pressure exam.

The Kindergarten Entry Assessment, as it is called, stems from the 2011 Excellent Public Schools Act that yielded the Read to Achieve program and A-F school letter grades. It is tied in with a federal Race to the Top challenge grant the state received.

The test it requires is not altogether dissimilar from what public schools in North Carolina already do.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, for example, has long gauged how much new kindergarten students know about things like identifying letters and numbers.

The new Kindergarten Entry Assessment, as it is called, appears to go further. By law, it focuses on five areas: language, cognition, attitude toward learning, physical well-being and motor development, and social and emotional development. It’s used to create a “child profile” within 60 days of the start of school.

A report compiled by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction pointed to research that assessments like these have been shown to improve outcomes later on.

The model has been adopted by a number of states, including Texas and Michigan. North Carolina officials say this one is not “high stakes,” though. Its mission is to inform how teachers approach instruction.

The test was tried out in about 80 schools across the state this year, including Hidden Valley Elementary and Montclaire Elementary in CMS.

Dunn: 704-358-5235;

Twitter: @andrew_dunn

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