The Kindergarten Individual Developmental Survey (KIDS) is the product of many years of planning, research, development, and state implementation. In March 2010, the State Superintendent of Education convened a Kindergarten Readiness Stakeholder Committee to explore the feasibility of adopting a statewide kindergarten readiness data collection process. In April 2011, the committee produced a report with recommendations—A New Beginning: The Kindergarten Individual Development Survey. That report provided recommendations based on national research, state case studies, and survey data reported by Illinois principals through the Illinois Principals’ Association regarding kindergarten assessment practices. Those recommendations were the basis for the development of the current KIDS instrument, through the Early Childhood Block Grant. Subsequently, the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant and the Preschool Expansion Grant have included requirements for reporting on school readiness as part of their grant evaluation measures.
The KIDS contract was awarded to the WestEd Center for Child & Family Studies, in partnership with the Berkeley Evaluation and Assessment Research Center at the University of California Berkeley and the California Department of Education. The KIDS Advisory Committee—representing a range of perspectives and types of expertise—was established in 2011 to provide guidance on the initiative. The KIDS Advisory Committee made recommendations on ways to collect readiness data for all kindergartners in a way that is meaningful, comparable, and workable. The committee prioritized state needs, clarified the purpose, and made recommendations for the core state requirements. The committee urged ISBE to continue to offer and support the use of KIDS as a comprehensive assessment, should districts choose to use it that way.
The Kindergarten Individual Developmental Survey (KIDS) is a research based observational tool developed for Illinois educators to collect school readiness information in a way that is efficient, supportive of excellent teaching practice, informative to educators, and comparable across geographic and demographic boundaries. KIDS provides data to allow communities to organize around the identified needs of local children and to advocate for new resources. KIDS conveys what skills, knowledge, and behaviors each child should possess—a beacon to guide the work of preschools, home child care centers, Head Start centers, family homes, and every other early childhood setting.
Data reported through KIDS will become part of a student’s longitudinal data record. This means that—for the first time in Illinois—KIDS will provide a single, statewide picture of kindergarten readiness among all students, no matter their zip code. KIDS creates a common language among educators for the skills, knowledge, and behaviors children should begin to develop in their early school years.
At the September 2015 board meeting, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) voted to approve updated goals that focus on the readiness continuum, which recognized the importance of knowing about the readiness of Illinois kindergartners as a step toward the state’s subsequent readiness goals; the first of which states that every child in each public school system in the state of Illinois deserves to attend a system wherein all kindergarteners are assessed for readiness.
School readiness data provides tools for schools and communities to collaborate toward the goal that every child is school ready as they enter kindergarten. Given the diverse tapestry of early learning programs and services, having a shared understanding of school readiness expectations helps providers establish their own program goals, align programs to those expectations, monitor their progress toward those goals, and make the case for increasing access to needed services.