Using Kindergarten Entry Assessments to Measure Whether Philadelphia’s Students Are On-Track for Reading Proficiently
The purpose of this study was to identify an indicator that the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) could use to measure the percentage of entering kindergarteners who are on-track to read on grade level by the end of grade 3. To develop the indicator, this study examined relationships between student scores on SDP's different assessments that measure early reading skills. It set a threshold on an index of two dimensions of the Pennsylvania Kindergarten Entry Inventory (KEI)--Emerging Academic Competencies and Learning Engagement Competencies--to measure whether students are likely to be proficient in English language arts (ELA) on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) in grade 3. For these analyses, the study used district administrative data on 3,521 SDP students who took the KEI in 2014/15 and the grade 3 PSSA in ELA in 2017/18. Students with higher scores on the KEI in 2014/15 had higher ELA scores on the grade 3 PSSA in 2017/18. The study established the threshold of 6 on a 1-10 index of the two KEI dimensions to predict whether students would be proficient. The percentage of students above this threshold matched the actual 37 percent proficiency rate of the study cohort in grade 3. Accurate prediction of the proficiency rate of the full cohort of students was possible despite a large number of errors in predicting the proficiency of individual students. The threshold correctly predicted the proficiency status of 53 percent of the students who were proficient on the grade 3 PSSA and 73 percent of those who were not proficient. Students with higher scores on SDP's annual spring reading assessments in kindergarten through grade 3 also had higher KEI scores and grade 3 PSSA in ELA scores. SDP can apply the study-established threshold to the KEI scores of future kindergarten cohorts to examine changes over time in the percentages of students who are on-track for reading proficiently in grade 3. Differences in this indicator for future cohorts might reflect the efforts of Philadelphia's citywide investments in early childhood education from birth to age 5. To identify individual students for support in reading, SDP may wish to use different measures or thresholds that more accurately predict which individual students are at risk of not being proficient in reading. Other states and districts could consider using kindergarten entry assessments to track students' progress towards reading proficiency.