As part of the state's application for a federal Race to the Top Early Challenge grant, the Board of Regents agreed to move forward with development of a new statewide tool to measure whether a student is ready for kindergarten.
The board also called for creation of an advisory council made up of stakeholders to provide advice on development of the tool.
SED officials noted the tool would not be used to determine entrance eligibility or used for teacher evaluation, but it could help schools provide targeted support and inform instruction.
New York is eligible to receive up to $100 million for early childhood initiatives over four years from the federal competition.
Under the grant program, the tool would be administered to children during the first few months of their admission into kindergarten. The tool would be aligned with the state's Early Learning and Development standards to cover language and literacy development; cognition and general knowledge; approaches to learning; and physical, emotional and motor development. Currently districts offer a variety of screenings to determine which students are possibly gifted, have a disability, or are limited English proficient.
SED Senior Deputy Ken Slentz noted the tool's findings would help establish baseline data. Research suggests more than half the achievement gap is already present at kindergarten entry and widens through the school years, he said.
NYSUT has been out front in calling for more early education funding to improve literacy and close the achievement gap. The union has worked closely with SED on the early childhood standards and supports the phase-in of the common core curriculum.