Kindergarten readiness tests

Readiness tests are meant to identify children who require special help in order to succeed in school. Most states, however, use readiness tests to screen children out of kindergarten. As this practice is so widespread, researcher in Virginia sought to determine how accurate readiness tests are in predicting academic success in the first years of school. Four commonly used tests were studied – the Brigance, the Daberon, the Developmental Indicators for the Assessment of Learning-Revised (DIALR), and the Missouri Kindergarten Inventory of Development Skills (KIDS).

According to the results of this study, none of the tests could accurately predict a child’s future performance on tests at the end of first grade. Of the children these tests identified as at-risk for failure, only about half performed in the bottom third of their first grade classes when allowed to attend kindergarten and go on to first grade. These tests, in other words, demonstrated no better predictability than the flip of a coin. KIDS, furthermore, was found to be particularly unreliable for measuring readiness in minority children or children younger than five years of age.

The authors of this study conclude that placement decisions based on these readiness tests are not defensible. They remind educators to use these tests for initial instructional or curriculum planning only.

“Using Readiness Tests to Route Kindergarten Students: The Snarled Intersection of Psychometrics, Policy and Practice” Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Summer 1991, Volume 13, Number 2, pp. 159-175.

Published in ERN March/April 1992 Volume 5 Number 2

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