Testing kindergartners

Some New York City schools will test kindergartners in math as well as literacy. The results will be used to evaluate where children are starting and chart their progress.

Principals who sign on will choose from five testing systems, each with math and reading components. They include workbook-like, multiple-choice assessments estimated to take kindergartners as much as 60 to 90 minutes per section, according to the Department of Education. Other options include roughly 30-minute-long tests pupils would complete on computers and 10-minute-long sessions face to face with a teacher.

Currently, children in kindergarten through second grade are assessed in literacy through one-on-one, 20-to-30-minute-long sessions with their teacher.

I’m all for data, but can a five-year-old handle a 60- to 90-minute test?

About Joanne


  1. No, and five year olds shouldn’t have to. What’s next, testing in utero?


  2. We have an assessment similar in scope to DIBELS, we do it on the same handheld that we record our dibels testing on. It’ by the same people that do the dibels handheld. mclass math won’t take anything like 60 to 90 minutes per assessment.

  3. “What’s next, testing in utero?”

    Um, yeah. As I recall, within five-ten minutes of birth newborns receive a “test.” It’s called the Apgar and it helps docs to evaluate whether there is anything going on that requires immediate attention. We just gotta stop getting all hysterical every time someone mentions the word test. There are all kinds of tests for all kinds of purposes, at all ages.

  4. “We just gotta stop getting all hysterical…”

    Right after we stop exaggerating. Margo, I don’t believe M.Sommerville was referring to medical tests. If you think the testing is good, then fine. I would be willing to listen to any logical reasoning.

  5. Lori:

    Testing at any point is an integral part of teaching. Particularly in mathematics it is important to assess what kids “know” that is both true and not true, in order to build on their previous knowledge. At some point a child generalizes that 1/2 is smaller than 1/3 because they have already learned that 2 is smaller than 3. Knowing that gives a teacher important insight into their conception of the world of fractions.

    Bronfenbrenner revolutionized the way that we look at testing when he suggested that those things that a student can do with assistance (scaffolding) are as important/more important than simply knowing what they can do independently. The zone of proximal development (the things that can be done with assistance) defines the area of current learning. This is determined through the use of various activities, sometimes referred to as “tests.”

    Actually, while the Apgar is administered by medical personnel, I believe it is more developmental in nature. In fact much of a child’s early “testing” is carried on in a doctor’s office. A doctor who picks up on a learning or developmental disability might make a referral for further evaluation (something like a battery of tests) that might ultimately result in specialized education.

  6. Mrs. Davis says:

    while the Apgar is administered by medical personnel, I believe it is more developmental in nature.

    Let’s see, are we talking skin color as developmental? heart rate? breathing? Must be muscle tone. Or reflex irritability. Yeah that’s it. Reflex irritability. That’s how you know if there’s an educationist nearby.

    ad hominem deleted.

  7. I have no idea what an educationist is, but it sounds insulting to me. Well, yes, a normally developed newborn will tend to breath normally and have an appropriate heart-rate. I’m not a medicalist(?), but I believe that skin tone relates to air getting into the lungs and being pumped through the body appropriately.

    But, again, “tests” are used for for many purposes by many professions–including health care and education, at many ages.

  8. Mrs. Davis says:

    I have no idea what an educationist is, but it sounds insulting to me.

    LOL. Why?

    Skin tone relates to, I am not a doctor, possibly among other things Yellow Jaundice that results from hightened levels of bilirubin in the blood from rh incompatibility between the mother and child and can, in rare cases, lead to complications such as cerebral palsy. I guess you could call that developmental.

  9. There’s a difference between an assessment and taking a test. An assessment session is the right way to go with kids this young.