The majority of kindergarten teachers in Maryland are deeply concerned about the new Kindergarten Readiness Assessment, according to a report released by the Maryland State Education Association, and as a result MSEA is asking the Maryland State Department of Education to suspend the assessment until the concerns are addressed.
“Kindergarten teachers flagged numerous problems with the KRA, including the significant loss of instructional time, the test’s developmental appropriateness, inadequate technology support, and the test’s inability to inform and improve instruction for students,” said MSEA President Betty Weller. “We stand ready to partner with state leaders to ensure that teachers have time to teach, students have time to learn, and assessments serve as effective tools in the classroom.”
The KRA is a new kindergarten readiness tool that allows teachers to measure each child’s school readiness across multiple domains including social foundations, math, science, social studies, language and literacy and physical well-being and motor development, according to the Maryland’s Ready 4 Kindergarten website. Teachers administer the test to all kindergarten children in the classroom sometime between the first day of school to Nov. 1.
MSEA’s report was based on surveys and feedback from hundreds of Maryland kindergarten teachers.
Among the report’s findings:
- 91% of kindergarten teachers in an MSEA statewide survey do not believe that the KRA will help improve instruction.
- 78.4% reported technology problems with the administration of the KRA.
- 51% reported that no or minimal accommodations were made for students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and English Language Learners (ELL).
According to the report, teachers were originally told that the KRA would take less than 45 minutes per student — which with 14-30 students already resulted in a significant loss of instructional class time. But teachers found that it actually took more than 60 minutes per student to administer the test, according to the report. Since only teachers were permitted to administer the assessment, that left the teaching to classroom aids or substitutes, the report stated.
One teacher surveyed for the report commented:
“I am one of two kindergarten paraeducators servicing 100 students. The KRA took our team 100 hours of instructional time to administer, which entailed pulling each child out of the classroom to be tested. The classroom had to be covered by a noncertified teacher at the most crucial time of the school year for a kindergartener. They were not used to coming to school and did not have a consistent educator and the paraeducators were given filler material to use while testing. The teachers cannot get that instructional time back.”
One of the recommends in the report would be to administer a revised assessment at the end of pre-k for students enrolled in a pre-k program with supports available to teachers so to that instructional time would not be missed. For students not attending pre-k, the assessment could be administered in the spring during the kindergarten round up by administrative staff, by hired teachers during summer registration or in some counties during gradual entry, according to the report. The goal would be to have a readiness assessment administered prior to entry into kindergarten.
The full report, accessible at marylandeducators.org/KRAreport, includes 137 pages of kindergarten teachers’ comments and anecdotes about the KRA that were sent to MSEA by the teachers. The report also contains a separate survey and set of feedback conducted by the Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA) in October of more than 350 kindergarten teachers in Montgomery County.
MSEA’s survey and request for feedback from kindergarten teachers was sent out to all kindergarten teacher members statewide in late October. MSEA received nearly 500 completed surveys or lengthy anecdotes from kindergarten teachers.