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Kindergartners Screened for Preparedness

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EUGENE, Ore. — Starting next school year, every child entering kindergarten in Oregon will be tested on basic reading, math and even behavioral skills. A local school is already the pilot program for the tests.

Fairfield Elementary in the Bethel School District is the only one in the area participating. School administrators say they’re honored to take part in making sure all Oregon children are as prepared as they can be when starting school.

Education experts say because statewide assessments begin at third grade and only test learned knowledge, there’s never been a real gauge of how prepared the 5-year-old demographic is for the classroom. That’s all about to change.

This year 16 Oregon schools, including Fairfield Elementary in the Bethel District, tried out a screening just for kindergartners.

“They did some math testing and they did tests on reading, letter recognition, letter sounds,” said kindergarten teacher Samantha Hart.

They also look at behavioral skills. Teachers say one child’s simple skills of knowing how to listen or just follow directions affect the whole class.

“I think that’s important that they’re looking at that, because those behaviors can either help a kid get where they need to get to or hinder a kid from where they need to get to,” Hart said.

The Bethel School District does its own similar assessments, but Fairfield’s principal says being able to see how it stack up to other schools across the state is truly valuable.

“To be able to say this is where our kids are coming into school, with this information, now we can reach out to schools, we can reach out to families and be able to give them the tools they need to come in prepared already for public school and kindergarten,” said Jenny Sink, Fairfield Elementary School Principal.

The results collected from all the pilot schools will help test developers figure out how high a student needs to score to be considered ready for school.

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