April 10, 2024

Indiana will open up more testing to the state’s youngest children. Data could identify future success, challenges

Indiana's two early learning assessments will soon be offered to more preschools, childcare centers and community-based providers. - File Photo: WFYI

Indiana's two early learning assessments will soon be offered to more preschools, childcare centers and community-based providers.

File Photo: WFYI

Whether or not a child is prepared for kindergarten helps predict how successful they'll be as a future student. 

The state’s two early learning assessments will soon be offered to more young children. This comes amid a push from education leaders to accrue more data on early learning.

State officials hope to leverage any data gathered from assessments to advocate for more support of early learning programs.

“We can't wait until the end of third grade to understand if a child is struggling or not. We have to do it much earlier,” said Katie Jenner, Indiana’s Secretary of Education.“This is yet another opportunity for not only educators but also parents to understand what that early intervention might look like.”

The Kindergarten Readiness Assessment and Indiana tells if a child’s readiness for kindergarten in their initial weeks of school. Student Performance Readiness and Observation of Understanding Tool, or ISPROUT, overviews a child’s developmental level. Kindergarten readiness is administered once in the first six weeks of school.

Preschools, childcare centers and community-based providers can utilize and receive support for both state assessments free of charge. State education leaders hope early learning will provide an idea into where young children are struggling and succeeding on math, literacy and other skills.

The expansion of these new assessments follows attempts by state leaders and educators to address a decline in third grade reading scores.

“We know that’s going to be a future predictor of how they do on the I-READ and how they could do in high school, so it will allow us to put some interventions in place early,” said Kelli Servizzi, the education department’s Director of Kindergarten Readiness. 

ISPROUT is typically offered to children who are ages three to five and receive public school special education services for an Individualized Education Program. 

Now, an expansion to all kids younger than 5 years old will open up potential for intervention that can improve student outcomes, Servizzi said. 

Schools and other providers can opt-in to ISPROUT starting in May for 3 year olds to 5 year olds.

For children 2 years old and younger, Servizzi said educator-led assessments could determine language issues among other data points. Opt-in for this age group begins in October. 

Data from early learning assessments will be available on Indiana’s Graduates Prepared to Succeed dashboard beginning in January 2025. Currently, the state does not share early learning data in the portal. 

The state’s Early Learning Advisory Committee worked to define kindergarten readiness and refresh its standards then shift to a means of gauging what that looks like, Servizzi said.

Servizzi’s office was created in 2022 simultaneously with rule changes for the ELAC by state lawmakers.

“They've allowed us to consider kindergarten readiness not just that 4 year old year right before kindergarten starts, but to think about what does that mean for an infant all the way through to a child that is 5 years old.”

Rachel Fradette is the WFYI Statehouse education reporter. Contact Rachel at rfradette@wfyi.org.

 

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