Kindergarten Assessment: Approaches to Learning & Early Literacy

What is the kindergarten assessment?

The Oregon kindergarten assessment provides a snapshot of the developmental, behavioral, and academic skills children have when they enter school, such as the ability to participate in a social setting or learning environment, and ability to understand basic concepts related to letters and numbers. The assessment does not constitute a barrier to kindergarten enrollment, e.g., students cannot “pass” or “fail”. Oregon’s kindergarten assessment was established to help teachers prepare individual students and their classrooms to maximize learning, and to measure school “readiness” across Oregon’s population of young children.

Oregon’s assessment is composed of 3 measures that are strongly linked to 3rd grade reading performance and future academic success — Early Literacy, Early Math, and Approaches to Learning:

  • Approaches to Learning – Measures a student’s interpersonal skills, ability to self-regulate, and how the child approaches learning. This component is administered between the 3rd and 6th weeks of the school year by the classroom teacher, who observes the student during regular activities and routines.
  • Early Literacy – Measures a student’s skill in recognizing both English letter sounds and names, upper and lowercase. This component is administered 1 on 1 by a trained test administrator within the first 3 weeks of the school year.
  • Early Math – Measures a student’s skills in counting and cardinality, operations and algebraic thinking, measurement and data, and geometry. This component is administered 1 on 1 by a trained test administrator within the first 3 weeks of the school year.

The kindergarten assessment started in 2013 and the data are collected by the Oregon Department of Education. Two components – Early Literacy and Early Math – have evolved since the assessment’s implementation in 2013. The Approaches to Learning component has remained constant, allowing for the comparison of performance over time. Currently, OCID is reporting on the Approaches to Learning and Early Literacy components.

Scores from the Approaches to Learning and Early Literacy components are depicted along a developmental continuum that describes the skills typical students should be able to demonstrate upon entry to kindergarten. This continuum applies to groups of students and is defined as follows:

Approaches to Learning (1-5 scale):

“Developing” (average score of 1.00 – 2.90) students require intensive adult support to:
“Approaching” (average score of 2.91 – 3.99) students require some adult support to:
“Demonstrating” (average score of 4.00 – 5.00) students require minimal adult support to:

  • Follow directions, try new tasks, focus on a task, and complete tasks;
  • Appropriately interact with peers and adults;
  • Appropriately express thoughts and feelings.

Early Literacy (maximum score of 26 for each component):

  • ‘Developing’ students identify:
    • 0-7 uppercase letters
    • 0-4 lowercase letters
    • 0-3 letter sounds
  • ‘Approaching’ students identify:
    • 8-17 uppercase letters
    • 5-14 lowercase letters
    • 4-6 letter sounds
  • ‘Demonstrating & Above’ students identify:
    • 18+ uppercase letters
    • 15+ lowercase letters
    • 7+ letter sounds

For education-related indicators, the year refers to the fall start of the academic year. For example, 2016 refers to the 2016-17 academic year.

Please remember the following
  • OCID only includes children born in Oregon since 2001; ideally, the dataset will be expanded over time to represent all of the children in Oregon.
  • OCID only includes education data for children attending Oregon public schools.
  • To display race and ethnicity categories consistently across multiple data sources, OCID currently combines information from vital statistics, education, Medicaid, and child welfare records. Visit our Race and Ethnicity Data Overview to learn more.
  • To protect the identities of individuals, OCID only shows results for populations; where populations are too small and could risk revealing identifiable information, OCID displays the result as “Suppressed.”

For more information about the details and limitations of the data, please visit our Technical Dictionary and Dataset Overview.


Ready to explore the data?

The indicator display below provides two views:

  • A dashboard view for a structured way to look at the indicator by selecting a geography and then 1-2 other attributes; and,
  • A “sandbox” view for freely exploring the various attributes.

Please visit the About OCID and Explore OCID Population pages before exploring the data. For details on the indicator, attributes, data sources, and limitations, please visit the Well-being Dashboard Technical Dictionary.


What explains any trends and disparities?

We don’t know yet. The Dashboard shows descriptive data, not causal relationships. In depth analyses are needed to understand why disparities or trends occur.

The OCID team conducts targeted analyses using advanced statistical methods to shed light on policy questions prioritized by the Governance Committee. These analyses aim to provide Oregon-specific and timely information for policymakers, allowing them to take a data-driven approach to improving outcomes for Oregon’s children. Sign up below to receive OCID updates.

Suggested citation: Center for Evidence-based Policy, Oregon Health & Science University. Kindergarten assessment: approaches to learning dashboard. Oregon Child Integrated Dataset (OCID) website. Published June 3, 2020.

The Center for Evidence-based Policy partners with the Center for Health Systems Effectiveness, also at Oregon Health & Science University, on dashboard analytics.