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Testing comes early to kindergarten

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Standardized testing in the early grades is always a topic that has many sides. Early childhood teachers have a variety of opinions about testing for young children. Opinions range from being on the "yes" side because testing can give a complete picture of the child's abilities and knowledge of the curriculum to teachers who are opposed to structured testing of young children. Early childhood teachers who are opposed to standardized testing for young children prefer to use portfolios that display progressive knowledge of the child's mastery of the curriculum through the year.

Testing for kindergartners comes early in the first 30 days of kindergarten in the Sarasota County School district. The Florida Department of Education established a kindergarten readiness screening tool that is based on standards adopted by the State Board of Education. The Florida Kindergarten Readiness Screener is given to all kindergarten students in the first 30 days of the school year. The screening tool is aligned with the Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten education standards. Many young children do not attend pre-kindergarten as it is not required. These children may find the kindergarten screening tests daunting. Kindergarten teachers in the Sarasota County School District will review the results of the screening tool with parents.

There are 8 areas of development that kindergarten students in Sarasota schools will be tested on at the end of the first 30 days of kindergarten.

*Physical health

*Approaches to Learning

*Social and emotional health

*Language and communication skills

*Emergent literacy

*Math and scientific thinking skills

*Social studies and the arts

*Motor development

The Florida Kindergarten Readiness Screener also consists of a subset of the Early Childhood Observation system. There are also two measurement tools from the Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading. Kindergartners in the Sarasota County Schools are also tested with this observation tool that tests their knowledge of letter names and phonetic knowledge. Listening comprehension and vocabulary development are also tested.

Testing after the first 30 days of kindergarten attendance is beneficial to teachers, parents, and young children. Teachers may use the results to prepare lessons that teach to the needs of the children in the class. Parents benefit from knowing that their kindergarten student is ready for learning. Young children benefit from early testing in that they can begin to get an understanding of the skills that they must master in kindergarten.

Testing is here to stay, and early childhood educators can aid young children by giving them a positive testing environment in the first days of kindergarten in order to prepare them for tests in later grades.

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