New kindergartner assessment provides picture of progress

A child’s first introduction into a classroom is often the first day of kindergarten and teachers in Whitley County Consolidated Schools are beefing up the way these youngsters are evaluated.Mary Raber Elementary School Principal Julie Turpin presented a new kindergarten report card to the school corporation’s Board of School Trustees during the panel’s Monday work session.According to Turpin, a team of kindergarten teachers from the district’s four elementary schools collaborated to create a new Kindergarten Common Assessments Midterm and Report Card. She presented the background and implementation of the system to the board on Monday.“As a parent, you can see where we are and where we want to go,” Turpin told the board. “Kindergarten is no longer about just hopping around on one foot.”The assessments, which come midterm and at semester’s end, were formerly done each quarter.They rate the students with either an “S” for satisfactory or an “N” for needs improvement. A mark of “I” means the student is improving.They assess the youngsters on such basic skills as counting, identifying colors and shapes and printing their name.Socially, the students are expected to engage in active listening, using self-control, staying on task and following procedures as well as numerous other social skills.“Our kindergarten teachers have been assessing students individually on the state standards for years, and reporting that progress to parents by attaching copies of their assessments to our previous district (kindergarten) midterms and report cards,” said Turpin. Turpin said those teachers “took the initiative to ask for updated midterms and report cards to include all of this assessment information on one page as the midterm and report card to clearly communicate the kindergarten curriculum, students’ progress in mastering the state standards throughout the year and to identify skills in need of additional practice.”Turpin said after the midterms and report cards were created, the assessments were updated to reflect the sequential order of the midterm and report card.“Student mastery of state standards is assessed one-on-one using manipulatives, letter cards, etc. and student responses are recorded on the assessment sheets,” she said.Turpin said she can’t say enough about the effort her teachers have put into the assessments.“We appreciate the initiative, collaboration, work, care, time and expertise our kindergarten teachers shared to develop these documents for our parents, students and district,” she said.The assessments have been honed and perfected by the teachers, said Turpin. But it’s the end user — mom and dad, who have the final nod of approval.“I’ve been very pleased with the communication we’ve gotten from the school,” said Sharon Miley, whose daughter Abby attends kindergarten at Mary Raber.“Abby has struggled with social anxiety and went through a year and a half of pre-school and never talked to anyone. Now, she’s raising her hand in class, waving to people and really looking forward to school when in pre-school, she didn’t want to go.”Miley said the teachers at her daughter’s school were proactive in helping Abby develop both as student and as a citizen from day one.“They have all been wonderful about ‘what can we do to help Abby?’”As her daughter progresses, Miley said she takes advantage of every tool available in helping young Abby continue to improve.“They just recently had a family night and it was interesting to see how they learn, not just what they learn,” she said.Miley said she believes the assessments give her a perfect window into Abby’s classroom, allowing her to witness each new step along the way.“It helps explain this explosion of knowledge that Abby has gotten recently.“I’ve gotten really great communication from them on how she’s doing, not only academically but socially as well.”