by Genevieve Demos Kelley
I have been a teacher in Maryland for over 33 years and I have never had anything impact my instruction negatively as the administration and recording of the KRA. — from MSEA’s Survey of Kindergarten Teachers, (Appendix I, p. 34)
Maryland’s Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA), introduced during the 2014-2015 school year, is designed to measure a child’s readiness for school in four areas: Language & Literacy, Mathematics, Physical Well-being & Motor Development, and Social Foundations.
On the surface, this sounds reasonable: Teachers have always assessed their incoming students’ skills, so that they can better meet the needs of the class. But the outcry from kindergarten teachers over this new assessment was so loud that the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) asked that the use of the KRA be suspended until “critical revisions” are made. A 100-plus page report issued by MSEA documents survey data and narrative responses from hundreds of kindergarten teachers.
The feedback has been overwhelmingly negative. Teachers are deeply concerned about the loss of instructional time, and they see little value in the data generated by the test.
- The test is administered by the child’s kindergarten teacher — not an assistant or other staff member — on a one-on-one basis. Since the assessment occurs during the school day, instructional time is lost as teachers pull students for testing and substitutes take their place. Here are comments from three teachers who responded to MSEA’s survey:
- The time used to administer the KRA…could be used to pull small groups, work one-on-one with students, provide enrichment to students, collect data for progress reports, etc. (p.2).
Some of the fun projects we do in the beginning of the year, that go along with the curriculum, have gone by the way side (Appendix I, p. 58).
- The first few months of school are the most important in setting routines, expectations and getting to know my children. I have spent more hours ignoring their needs or handing off instruction to substitutes then I can count (Appendix I, p.1).
Initially, teachers were told that the test would take about 45 minutes for each child. But according to the Maryland State Education Association’s (MSEA) survey of kindergarten teachers, about 80% of teachers found that the test took more than hour to administer. Nearly one in five teachers (17.7%) reported that the test took over two hours. Multiplying this by the number of kindergarteners in each class means many hours of lost instruction.