What is TX-KEA?

The Texas Education Agency (TEA), in collaboration with the Children’s Learning Institute (CLI) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) received a research award from The US Department of Education to develop the Texas Kindergarten Entry Assessment System (TX-KEA).  Once developed, TX-KEA will be an optional tool for schools to use to screen children’s school readiness upon their entry into kindergarten.

When do you expect it will be rolled out 100% and available for use by districts choosing to do so?

In August 2017, TX-KEA launched on the CLI Engage platform. The assessments, reports, and training are hosted on CLI Engage. Visit the website to request an account to access the TX-KEA materials.

Where can I find TX-KEA training materials?

The assessments, reports, and training are hosted on CLI Engage. Click here to download the TX-KEA User Guide that provides information on all the TX-KEA subtests, administration recommendations, and scoring guidelines. We recommend that all users download a copy of the TX-KEA User Guide for training.

How long is the TX-KEA Grant?

The TX-KEA Grant will take place from 2013-2017. In 2013, we began by developing testing procedures, testing materials, and 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, and executive functioning, and social-emotional competencies. We then had a small pilot during the spring of 2014, and we launched a large scaling study from 2014 to 2016. In 2016, TX-KEA and standardized norm-referenced measures will be administered to the fall to examine validity. Norm-referenced measures will be re-administered in the spring to evaluate predictive validity.

What is the goal of TX-KEA?

The goal of TX-KEA is to develop a criterion-referenced screening tool to help determine whether students meet specified academic standards and development levels. This point-in-time snapshot of each student’s competencies will inform instruction and identify whether additional instruction or diagnostic assessment is needed.

How can I join the TX-KEA mailing list?

If you would like to join the TX-KEA mailing list, please click here.  The TX-KEA research team will send information about TX-KEA and opportunities to get involved to our mailing list regularly.

How did you develop the items?

Content was developed to align with Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines and kindergarten Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). We have a range of items from easy to hard. We don’t expect all kids to get all things right. We want to learn about children.

Are scores norm referenced?

Yes, TX-KEA will report students' percentile ranks.

TX-KEA is…

  • a comprehensive school readiness screening assessment to be given to children at the beginning of kindergarten by teachers
  • being developed in English and Spanish and will allow adaptations for children with special needs
  • designed to inform instruction
  • a web-based reporting system to help teachers make effective use of the results
  • a combination of teacher-administered direct assessments, child-paced direct assessments, and teacher surveys/observation tools
  • a system that will link data to the Texas Education Agency’s Texas Student Data System (TSDS)
  • being developed for use on several platforms and devices, including laptops and tablets
  • a time-efficient assessment that will allow assessment of all areas within 45 minutes
  • a system that will provide reports to parents, teachers, and school district personnel
  • being developed with an effective web-based training for teachers
  • one of many screening instruments that schools can choose to use at kindergarten entry


  • an intelligence test
  • a high stakes test
  • a language proficiency test
  • an assessment to evaluate the performance of kindergarten or pre-k teachers
  • a system to determine certification of early childhood programs
  • a system to replace teacher progress monitoring across the school year

Will it be available for private schools?

TX-KEA will be free to all Texas public schools. Others may be able to access the TX-KEA on a contract basis. More information will be provided closer to the Fall 2017 launch.

How is this different from TPRI?

TPRI is a progress monitoring tool that measures literacy over the course of a year. TX-KEA is only an entry screener and cannot measure growth at the middle or the end of year. However, this is a long-term goal of the TX-KEA research team. TX-KEA can be used in conjunction with other assessments like the TPRI at the beginning of the year.

Will TX-KEA become a progress monitoring tool?

This was not part of the scope of this grant, but the development team is pursuing funding for this opportunity.

Will this become a state mandated assessment?

TX-KEA itself is not required. It will be listed on the Commissioner’s List, along with other approved tools that TEA will determine later this spring. For questions about TEA’s requirements, we recommend contacting TEA.

How many times will this assessment be administered during the school year?

TX-KEA will be administered ONCE at the beginning of the kindergarten year.

Who will have access to the results?

TX-KEA will provide individual reports for parents and teachers, and group reports for teachers and school administrators.

How will the Texas KEA be used with children with disabilities?

TX-KEA will be developed to be used with children with disabilities. However, it will not be validated for this population. Depending on the severity of the disability, they may not be able to complete all subtests of the screener, but they will complete some subtests to give parents and teachers information about children’s knowledge and skills in specific domains.

Is the TX-KEA computer adaptive?

TX-KEA is not an adaptive assessment.

Can you provide any background on the selection of Spanish words, prompts, letter pronunciations etc.?

The selection of prompts, words, and general item content used in the Spanish TX-KEA was guided by criteria related to the construct assessed in each subtest. In general, selection was guided by curricular relevance, linguistic and conceptual features targeted by an item, and other developmental criteria such as age of acquisition, and age of instruction. All items in Spanish were reviewed by committees of Spanish speakers representing various dialects of Spanish. Item translations were also done in committee and when appropriate underwent back translation procedures to ensure adherence to the construct being measured.

Could TX-KEA be used at the end of Pre-K? 

TX-KEA is being developed to be used for the beginning of the year of kindergarten, and intended to be administered between early September and the end of October of the kindergarten school year. Assessment items are specifically designed for children at that age, so giving it several months early may invalidate the results.

Can you compare end-of-year CIRCLE Progress Monitoring data to TX-KEA data?

CIRCLE Progress Monitoring and TX-KEA are conceptually aligned. However, they are not vertically or horizontally equated so their scores are not comparable at this time.

Will TX-KEA include a way to track children back to their pre-k or child care programs? 

TX-KEA will be integrated into TEA’s longitudinal assessment system, the Texas Student Data System, but will not be tracked to kindergarten students’ earlier education/care programs.

Is TX-KEA timed?

Certain tests are timed, but a majority of the assessments are untimed.

What if a child comes into my classroom after the recommended window? Can I still administer TX-KEA?

If TX-KEA was administered to the student at the previous school, there will be a way to request the data on CLI Engage. Otherwise, you can give TX-KEA up to the Christmas holidays. Beyond that, the data would no longer be valid.

How soon in the year do we have to give TX-KEA?

TX-KEA is intended to be administered between early September and the end of October of the kindergarten school year.

Have you accounted for bias in the test items?

During our validity study, all items will go through bias and sensitivity testing. Any items that are found to favor one group over another will be removed from the item pool.