Virginia’s Kindergarten Readiness Program
The Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Program (VKRP) expands the assessment of children beyond literacy (PALS), to include the school readiness domains of math, social skills, and self-regulation. The data provides school divisions with a more comprehensive understanding of how kindergarten students are entering elementary schools in terms of key readiness skills. A snapshot of the results from Fall 2021 can be found here.
Since 2013, VKRP has expanded from a pilot assessment system in 100 classrooms to a statewide Kindergarten assessment system. VKRP is now expanding to include all publicly-funded preschool programs. For more information on the history of VKRP, click here.
How VKRP Began
The Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Program was initiated by E3 in partnership with UVA CASTL. With guidance from the Virginia Department of Education, we launched a four-phased approach to create a statewide comprehensive kindergarten assessment. While VKRP began with a focus on assessing skills at kindergarten entry, assessment data and feedback from the field prompted VKRP to add timepoints in both the fall and spring of kindergarten and pre-k.
Phase 1: Selecting Assessment Tools
- VKRP created a more comprehensive kindergarten entry assessment system by adding assessments of mathematics, self-regulation and social skills.
- The new assessment system includes and complements the existing assessment of students’ literacy skills – The Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS).
Phase 2: A Snapshot of Kindergarten Readiness
- Through a pilot study, VKRP created a snapshot of Virginia’s entering kindergarten students with regard to readiness skills across a more comprehensive range of learning domains and clearly defined the school readiness gap in Virginia.
- The study was conducted across 16 school divisions in Virginia. A sample of students who were representative of the Commonwealth indicated that 34% of children arrived at kindergarten needing extra support in at least one critical learning domain (mathematics, literacy, self-regulation, and social skills). Review the full report from phase II here.
Phase 3: Voluntary Rollout
- Beginning in 2015, VKRP started expanding the comprehensive readiness assessment system through a gradual, voluntary rollout. The number of divisions participating in each area increased from 21 school divisions in 2015 to 89 school divisions by Spring 2018-19.
Phase 4: Statewide Implementation
2019 and Beyond
- VKRP is now statewide. The Virginia General Assembly passed legislation that required all kindergarten students be assessed in the fall and spring using VKRP by the end of the 2019-2020 school year and annually thereafter.
- In fall 2019, all 132 school divisions participated in VKRP with a final sample of almost 86,000 kindergarten students.
From Pilot to Statewide Implementation
From 2014 to 2018, the number of participating school divisions across Virginia increased from 16-89.
In 2019, there was statewide implementation of VKRP across all 132 school divisions.
- Since VKRP began its voluntary rollout in 2015, division leaders, principals, and teachers repeatedly asked for early learning assessments that measure preschool children’s growth over time.
- In 2018, the VKRP team began developing a preschool extension of the assessment system.
Voluntary Pre-K Pilot
- In 2020-21, VKRP implemented a voluntary pilot of VKRP assessments with a sample of pre-k classrooms in the fall and spring. 350 classrooms, including more than 4,000 preschoolers within 142 early childhood education programs participated.
- Although the pilot sample was small relative to Virginia’s public pre-k population and not representative of that population, the results indicated that teachers were able to administer the assessments with high levels of fidelity, that the measures function well for preschool students, and that the system would be ready for scale in the 2021-22 school year for 4-year-old students.
2021 and Beyond
- In the 2021-22 school year, VKRP became available to all publicly-funded preschool programs to assess children’s skills in fall and spring.
- By expanding VKRP to pre-k, we can measure growth over time both within a school year and across school years (age 4 through the end of kindergarten). We can also identify students’ strengths and support student growth in areas they need it most.
Research-Practice Partnerships to Strengthen Early Education
Research-practice partnerships (RPPs) are long-term collaborations between researchers and policy makers and/or practitioners that are designed to improve educational outcomes through sustained collaboration and commitment.