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What Do Kindergarten Assessment Tests Involve?

by Karen Hollowell

When your child begins kindergarten, he will learn many concepts and skills that will be assessed often throughout the year. Teachers use screening assessments at the beginning of the year so they can identify areas of strength and weakness in their students' math and reading knowledge and ability. Progress monitoring assessments are ongoing tests that determine if students are mastering skills at the appropriate time. End-of-year assessments help kindergarten teachers determine if their students have sufficient knowledge to be promoted to first grade.

Phonics

Kindergarten teachers assess students on phonics skills throughout the year. When school begins, students are assessed on alphabet recognition and recitation. Teachers use this information to help form reading groups. Although reading instruction is given to the whole group, most teachers establish 3 or 4 small groups, enabling them to work on specific skills. These tests are usually administered one-on-one and involve no writing. Students will name letters as a teacher points to them on a paper or flash cards.

Writing

Teachers will give an informal writing assessment at the beginning of the year. Usually this consists of asking students to write their name, specific lower and uppercase letters and numbers. This informs the teacher about the level of instruction the students needs and it also allows her to see if a child's fine motor skills are developing as evidenced by his ability to hold and use a pencil correctly.

Concepts of Print

Teachers also assess students' concepts of print knowledge. This is actually a term referring to several aspects of reading, such as knowing how to hold a book, recognizing that words are read from left to right and that they are made from combinations of letters. Your child is not expected to know all this on the first day of school; the teacher will demonstrate and explain these features every time she reads aloud. Determining the level of her students' knowledge will direct the intensity of her instruction. This test is also informal and can be administered to a small group at one time. The teacher will pass out books to the children and observe the way they handle them. She will also read the book to them and ask them to point to the words, not assessing their word knowledge, but their ability to track print.

Math

Math skills are also assessed at the beginning of the year and progress is determined through chapter or nine weeks tests. The end-of-year math test assesses the students' mastery of skills. For example, when school begins, the teacher will informally assess a child's number recognition and counting ability, skills that teachers work on every day in kindergarten; your child may be able to count to 25 and recognize numbers 1 through 5. By the end of the year, children should be able to recognize and count to 100. Other math skills assessed throughout the year include shape and color recognition.

About the Author

Karen Hollowell has been teaching since 1994. She has taught English/literature and social studies in grades 7-12 and taught kindergarten for nine years. She currently teaches fourth grade reading/language and social studies. Hollowell earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Mississippi and her Master of Arts in elementary education from Alcorn State University.

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