The Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Program was initiated by Elevate Early Education (E3), a statewide bipartisan issue-advocacy organization dedicated to early childhood education. E3, in partnership with the University of Virginia's Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) and with guidance from the Virginia Department of Education, launched a three-phased approach to creating a statewide, comprehensive kindergarten assessment:
Phase I - 2013/2014
The Task at Hand: Research and select an assessment tool that could be used statewide to accurately assess readiness skills across a range of domains upon kindergarten entry.
The Result: VKRP compiled an assessment tool that includes and complements the existing assessment of students' literacy skills, using the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS), with common assessments of students' early mathematics, self-regulation and social skills.
Phase II - 2014/2015
The Task at Hand: Create a snapshot of Virginia's entering kindergarten students with regard to readiness skills across a comprehensive range of learning domains and clearly define the school readiness skills gap in Virginia.
The Result: The phase 2 pilot study using a sample of students who were representative of the Commonwealth indicated that 34% of children arrive at kindergarten unprepared in at least one critical learning domain (literacy, mathematics, self-regulation, and social skills). Review the full reports.
Phase III - 2015 to current
The Task at Hand: Implement a voluntary statewide comprehensive readiness assessment that includes the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS). Data from the assessment can be used to:
- Better inform teachers and other educators about the instructional needs of students at the beginning of kindergarten.
- Inform division leaders, city councils, policy makers and other stake holders to help target interventions that improve outcomes.
The Result: Beginning in 2015, VKRP started expanding through a graduated, voluntary roll-out. In 2015, 21 school divisions participated, and in 2016, 45 divisions participated. VKRP continued to grow in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years.
The Virginia General Assembly passed legislation that requires all kindergarten students to be assessed in the fall and spring using VKRP by the end of the 2019-2020 school year and annually thereafter (HB5002, Item 128, H).
Funding for phases I and II of VKRP were secured by E3 through public and private investments, with the Commonwealth appropriating funds from the K-12 Reform Agenda. This was matched 2:1 with private donations from the Batten Educational Achievement Fund of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation. Statewide implementation of VKRP has been funded through an appropriation from the Virginia General Assembly and distributed through the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) from July 2015 to current.