As part of the new round of Race to the Top, the Obama administration is spending $500 million asking states to develop pre-K assessments. What does pre-K "testing" look like in the classroom when done well? I explain at The Nation:
Maryland has perhaps the most advanced pre-K assessment tool in the country, and one the Department of Education is pointing to as an example. The state’s “Model for School Readiness” requires incoming kindergarteners to be assessed in seven “domains of learning:” language and literacy, mathematical thinking, scientific thinking, social studies, the arts, physical development, and social and personal development. Teachers perform the assessment by looking at a child’s drawings and writing, watching the child attempt to identify letters and numbers, and observing the child playing and interacting with both peers and adults.
The purpose of the system is to improve instruction for kids, not to reward or punish individual educators.
Read the whole column.