Kindergartners: State of the State

Kindergartners: State of the StateHow do Alaska’s kindergartners measure up REALLY? So much public policy depends on this information, and now, thanks to a revised assessment of children as they enter kindergarten we should have a better sense of our children’s strengths, skills, and gaps.

Since the late 1990s, the State of Alaska has required kindergarten teachers to observe, assess, and complete a developmental profile on each child. The new system provides more guidance to teachers, reports the data in a different way, and aligns the assessment more closely with the state’s Early Learning Guidelines. The guidelines describe what children should know, understand, and be able to do from birth to 5.

Teachers complete the developmental profiles online. The profiles are compiled by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEED). DEED provides only district-by-district results; specific school results are not available, but parents can request their child’s assessment from the district.

Alaska’s revised developmental profile lists the goals, indicators of proficiency, and suggested activities for teachers to use in order to observe children. The idea is that a teacher’s assessment of each student is based on multiple observations over the first four weeks of kindergarten.

If a child “consistently demonstrates” a particular skill or ability, he receives a “2” rating. If the child is “progressing,” he receives a “1.” A child who “does not demonstrate” the particular skill receives a “0” rating. Developmental Results, both district-by-district and statewide, appear on the DEED website. Click on the year and the reports appear under “Developmental Profile.”

View 2009-2012 Alaska Developmental Profile Statewide Results—Four-Year Trendline.

Student ID numbers are now attached to the profile, which enables the information to be used in more ways, according to DEED’s Jeanne Foy. The student IDs allow DEED or a district, to sort results by demographic variables, according to Foy. For example, a school district could analyze the data to reveal patterns or trends based on gender, socio-economic status, or race and ethnicity.

The development profiles are not and have never been used as an entrance exam, to evaluate individual students, or to determine eligibility for programs. Alaska is one of only seven states nationwide that collect assessment information about developmental progress in kindergarten, according to Child Trends: Early Childhood Highlights.

This article originally appeared in the July 2010 Best Beginnings E-newsletter and was subsequently updated. Please refer to our Content Reproduction Policy if you are interested in reproducing content provided on this website.