Background

Principal Investigators

  • Susan H. Landry, Ph.D.
  • Jason Anthony, Ph.D.

Co-Principal Investigators

Michael Assel, Ph.D. Janelle Montroy, Ph. D. Tricia Zucker, Ph.D.
Maria Carlo, Ph.D. Heather Taylor, Ph.D.  
Ursula Johnson, Ph.D. Jeffrey Williams, Ph.D.  

Funding Agency

US Department of Education in conjunction with the Texas Education Agency

Description of the Project

The Children's Learning Institute at UTHealth, in collaboration with the Texas Education Agency, received an award from the US Department of Education to develop the Texas Kindergarten Entry Assessment (TX-KEA). This assessment is being designed for use by educators to screen children’s school readiness upon their entry into kindergarten. TX-KEA will help schools determine whether students have mastered developmental benchmarks, as described in the Texas PreK Guidelines and the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). This point-in-time snapshot of each student’s competencies will inform instruction and identify whether additional diagnostic assessment is needed.

This project works to enhance the quality and variety of assessment instruments and systems available for use by Texas’ 1,247 school districts, which serve up to 400,000 new kindergarten students each year. Our goal is to develop a comprehensive screening tool that can be reliably administered by kindergarten teachers, be a valid predictor of later academic success, and is integrated into TEA’s longitudinal assessment system.

Investigators and consultants have collaboratively constructed test items that evaluate a broad range of school readiness skills. While TX-KEA will have the ability to evaluate many learning areas critical for academic success, only some of these areas are required to meet state guidelines. Teachers have the ability to screen additional areas depending on the needs and abilities of the child. The TX-KEA learning areas include:

  1. Vocabulary
  2. Listening comprehension
  3. Letter knowledge
  4. Phonological awareness
  5. Early writing
  6. Mathematics
  7. Science and engineering
  8. Gross and fine motor
  9. Social competence
  10. Self-regulation
  11. Emotion understanding  

Separate English and Spanish versions of TX-KEA have been developed to help meet the needs of each individual student. TX-KEA is being designed to give teachers meaningful information in a convenient and cost-efficient way. Including both teacher-completed checklists and individually-administered assessments for children, TX-KEA will be available on multiple forms of technology, e.g., PC, tablet, etc. at no cost.

At the beginning of our study, the research team developed a variety of testing procedures, testing materials, and preliminary test items that provide coverage of the full continuum of Kindergarten children’s knowledge and abilities in oral language, letter knowledge, phonological awareness, mathematics, science/engineering, approaches to learning, motor coordination, executive functioning, and social-emotional competencies.

In 2014, initial tasks were piloted with a sample of approximately 75 Kindergarteners. After reviewing these results, the research team revised our procedures and test items for our scaling study. During this two year study, we worked with more than 2,500 children around the state. We tested both monolingual English speakers as well as monolingual or bilingual speakers of Spanish.

In the final year of our study, we will be conducting our validity study, where we will work with more than 400 Kindergarten students. Specifically, TX-KEA and standardized norm-referenced measures will be administered in the fall and norm-referenced measures will be re-administered in the spring to evaluate predictive validity.

The investigative team recognizes that a screening product is only as good as the procedures developed to train users in how to administer the assessment and how to use the reporting functionalities. Therefore, we are developing an appropriate training module for teachers to learn how to administer this assessment, to ensure that it is administered consistently throughout the state. We are also working with Education Service Centers to provide face-to-face training on the system. Contact your local Education Service Center for more information.

Participants

In the scaling study, we worked with more than 2000 children around the state to make sure that our test items are reliable measures of school readiness. During final year of development, we will work with more than 400 children to examine the validity of our assessment.

Sites

Texas Education Agency is located in Austin, Texas. Researchers for this study are located at UTHealth in Houston, Texas. Assessments have been conducted in various school districts and sites throughout Texas, including Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, the Rio Grande Valley, the Midland/Odessa area, and Houston.