Today, Governor Kitzhaber and the Oregon Department of Education released the results of Oregon's statewide Kindergarten Assessment. The assessment was called for by Governor Kitzhaber and passed by the Legislature in 2012, and is a key aspect of the Governor's early childhood reform efforts. With over 95% of all entering kindergarteners participating in the assessment, the results provide an unprecedented and sobering look at the readiness of Oregon's youngest learners.
"Today's results validate our focus on reforming Oregon's historically scattershot approach to early learning," said Governor Kitzhaber. "This assessment will help drive our current early learning reforms and accountability for results, and should serve as a challenge to all our communities to focus on kindergarten readiness with a true sense of urgency."
The assessment was designed to focus on the areas that are most strongly linked to 3rd grade reading, which is one of the strongest predictors of future academic success. These results will be used by schools, districts, early learning hubs, and providers of early learning services to focus resources and proven programs on the areas of greatest need. Some results give a startling look at the state of early childhood development in Oregon. For instance, 33% of entering kindergarteners could name five or fewer letters of the alphabet and 14% couldn't name a single letter.
"The Kindergarten Assessment information will provide us critical baseline data so that educators can ensure students are poised to read at grade level by 3rd grade," said Chief Education Officer Nancy Golden. "We know that early education plays a profound role in a student's trajectory, and the ability to provide concrete feedback to early education providers creates tremendous system alignment and focus towards the third grade reading benchmark."
By highlighting gaps in student knowledge and skill -- and gaps between student subgroups and underserved communities -- these results provide direction and urgency for early action. In addition, results provide a baseline for tracking trends over time, measuring progress and increasing accountability.