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State Starts New Kindergarten Assessment

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SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — A new assessment is under way this school year for kindergartners.

Lawmakers signed a bill in 2012 to develop a statewide kindergarten assessment.

Last year, Fairfield Elementary in the Bethel School District, one of 16 schools across Oregon chosen to take part in the pilot. Now administrators in Springfield and 4J school districts are preparing for their first round.

Elizabeth Page Elementary School in the Springfield School District is of many across the state administering this new kindergarten assessment. Though it’s a new test, the concept is old news.

“Kindergarten assessment is not new to Springfield kindergartners. Historically, we’ve used easyCBM so that we can get an early read, benchmark assessment of where our kids are so we can better serve their needs,” said Whitney McKinley, Elizabeth Page Elementary Principal. “We’re kind of excited about it. It’s not giving us information we haven’t had before. It’s just in a different format.”

Springfield staff aren’t the only ones eager to see what can be accomplished with this data.

“I think the thing that’s exciting about this is it’s really the first time we’ve had a picture of when students come into school and start kindergarten. What kind of things can we do to support them,” said Kerri Sage, 4J OAKS Testing Coordinator.

A 15-minute exam covering early literacy, math and behavioral skills, school administrators say it’s not meant to be scary.

“No kindergartner can fail this test. it’s just to help us see where they’re at so that they can learn and learn better than when they came to us,” said Devon Ashbridge, Springfield Public Schools Spokeswoman.

The raw data are submitted online, and then it’s up to education officials to figure out exactly what the numbers mean. While that is still unclear, everyone is hopeful figuring out how to get these little ones off on the right start will mean a better finish.

“Initially starting off with that positive experience and really knowing where the kids are coming from will help us set up a plan to help them be successful by the time they graduate,” Sage said.

Most of the schools in the Springfield-Eugene area have yet to administer the test. They’re waiting for kids to get comfortable in their new environments. Teachers say the test is just the beginning of a year-long evaluation at the measure their student’s growth.

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