George Lucas Educational Foundation

Benchmark Tests in Kindergarten

Benchmark Tests in Kindergarten

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A couple of years ago we were given a new curriculum that came with Benchmark Tests that our district requires us to give twice a year (fall and spring). The first couple of years I was a fairly new teacher so I did as I was told. Some adjustments have been made by the district as to what our requirements of the students are, but I am curious how other teachers out there handle assessments at such a young age that are required for you to give but are not graded? I use the assessments to be sure students understand the concepts and then go back and re-teach when needed. These particular assessments are scripted for us, which I find to be the most difficult part because I might not always use the same vocabulary they have in their script. Am I to use that vocabulary in my teaching or is it okay to adjust the script when giving the test? Do you have any other great ways of measuring comprehension and understanding at the kindergarten level?

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Kenyan's picture

Ellie I face the same problem in my district. We have moved beyond just benchmarks to standardized testing. This spring our kindergarteners will be taking the SAT10 (Stanford Achievement Test) for the first time. I am concerned because they grew extremely exhausted from the practice test. When teaching I use the terminology used for testing because it makes it easier for them to understand when they see it on a test. I think many other questions will arise from this new method of testing in early grades. Hopefully, we will make it through without putting too much pressure on our little ones.

David Wees's picture
David Wees
Formative Assessment Specialist for New Visions for Public Schools

I understand why districts are doing this - they want to know at what level their kindergartners are at so they can measure learning (either to allow them to redistribute resources, "hold teachers accountable", etc..) but I really think it is crazy.

Any assessments of where kindergartners are at is very likely to be full of validity issues (they can't write, so who records the responses), developmental issues (many of them can't sit still, let alone participate in a test for any length of time), and cause unnecessary stress for these 4 and 5 year olds.

Dana's picture
Kindergarten teacher from Ohio

As a new kindergarten teacher, I am full of concerns about assessments in kindergarten. My main concern is that the focus will be on assessments instead of on teaching and learning. As far as I know, the only standardized assessment that is required in our district is the KRA-L and that is administered in a one on one setting at the beginning of the school year. I have been researching the best ways to assess students throughout the school day and in the most developmentally appropriate ways. Learning from other teachers has been helpful and I am curious if anyone has any ideas or strategies that have been tried and worked in their classrooms.

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