Skip to main content
Knowledge Center
Center on the States
Cultivating, supporting, and disseminating innovations

Kindergarten Entry Assessments

Policymakers, parents, and the public want to know that children are “ready” for kindergarten.  What is the definition of kindergarten-ready?  How will a child’s readiness for kindergarten be assessed?  How will this information help inform how to help all children be ready for the kindergarten year? Kindergarten entry assessments, sometimes known as kindergarten readiness assessments, are being developed by states to assess what children know and are able to do as they enter kindergarten.  The results are used to inform better policies and resources for the years prior to kindergarten, and to help provide high-quality instruction and supports so that every child will be successful in the kindergarten year.

Recent federal grant programs have required or emphasized the development of kindergarten entry assessments: the Race To the Top Early Learning Challenge Act, the Preschool Development and Expansion grants, and a research grant to three consortia of states to develop appropriate, valid kindergarten readiness assessments.Children who transition to kindergarten from Head Start will be assessed in kindergarten, and how Head Start programs align to the state’s definition of kindergarten readiness will impact choices of curricula and teaching practices, formative assessments, and other supports for children in the preschool years.

Federal Developments

U.S. Department of Education press release of three Enhanced Assessment Grants for development of state kindergarten entry assessments, September 2013.

As part of an application for a Race To The Top – Early Learning Challenge Grant, a state must describe:

"The extent to which the State is administering, or has a High-Quality Plan to administer, a common, statewide kindergarten entry assessment that is aligned with the State's Early Learning and Development Standards, that informs instruction and services in the early elementary grades, and that—

  1. Covers all of the Essential Domains of School Readiness;
  2. Is valid, reliable, and appropriate for the target population and for the purpose for which it will be used;
  3. Is administered to all children who are entering a public school kindergarten statewide;
  4. Is appropriate for all children, including English learners and children with disabilities;
  5. Is reported to the Statewide Longitudinal Data System, and to the early learning data system if it is separate from the Statewide Longitudinal Data System, as permitted under and consistent with the requirements of Federal State, and local, privacy laws; and
  6. Will be administered statewide no later than the start of school year 2014-2015"

More information here

State Developments and Guidance

Fast Fact: Information and Resources on Developing State Policy on Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA). Center on Enhancing Early learning Outcomes.  February 2014.

State Approaches to School Readiness: 2014 Update of Technical Report. National Conference of State Legislators.  December 2014.

Developing Kindergarten Readiness and Other Large Scale Assessment Systems: Necessary Considerations in the Assessment of Young Children.  Snow, K. National Association for the Education of Young Children. December 2011. 

Moving Forward With Kindergarten Readiness Assessment Efforts: A Position Paper of the Early Childhood Education State Collaborative on Assessment and Student StandardsCouncil of Chief State School Officers.