Constructing and Resisting the Development of a School Readiness Survey: The Power of Participatory Research

Johnson, Tricia Giovacco
Buchanan, Michelle
This article describes the process of engaging preschool and kindergarten teachers in the research and development of a school readiness survey. The current trend toward high-stakes assessment of school readiness pressures communities to collect child performance data in a manner that departs from informal observation typical of early childhood assessments. Based on the knowledge that assessment should be age appropriate, reflect a range of developmental domains, incorporate authentic methods, and be inclusive of diverse learners, preschool and kindergarten teachers in Wyoming resisted the use of formal assessments of school readiness. Wyoming chose to be proactive in developing "Instructional Foundations for Kindergarten," an observation tool grounded in values and perspectives shared by preschool and kindergarten teachers. This process utilized a collaborative research approach through focus group and small group interviews that engaged preschool and kindergarten teachers in dialogue regarding children, classrooms, and their efforts to support the transition from preschool to kindergarten settings. Findings indicate that teachers involved in the creation of an assessment value the opportunity to share their different perspectives, engage in meaningful dialogue regarding the relevance of survey content and items, and promote the use of assessments that are inclusive of all children. This research begins a conversation among early childhood teachers in Wyoming regarding readiness – a first step in the development of a readiness system that reflects the shared values of stakeholders. Link to full text:
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