Pre-K Assessment Developers Selected for Measures for Early Success Initiative

MDRC is pleased to announce the selection of teams of innovators to develop early learning assessment tools as part of the Measures for Early Success Initiative. The Initiative, led by MDRC with funding support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, seeks to develop scalable, comprehensive, and reliable assessment tools of children’s developmental gains that are relevant and usable for pre-K educators, children, and families to support more equitable early learning outcomes for all young children.

The following teams have been selected to date, with more teams to follow in the coming weeks: 

Organizations: Hatch Early Learning, The Family Partnership, TeachFX, Data Griot 

Holistic Early Learning Platform (HELP) for Assessment: This team aims to assess complex yet foundational skills via a self-guided approach at scale. The team will combine play-based assessments with automated speech recognition technology to comprehensively capture children’s skills and learning experiences in the classroom. The skills include three core domains: executive functioning, literacy, and math. For educators and families, the platform will also include real-time insights on child progress and interventions that are relevant, accessible, equitable, and personalized.

Organizations: Sprig Learning, Zeno Math, Mighty Play, Dr. Lisa Lunney Borden (St. Francis Xavier University), Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey

Holistic Digital Math Assessment: This team plans to build on Sprig Learning’s existing holistic assessment and learning platform and Zeno Math’s educational games to develop a culturally supportive, strength-based math assessment tool. This holistic assessment will focus on the foundational math processes that help pre-K children develop a strong foundation in mathematics and build a deeper understanding of mathematical thinking. Through the Measures for Early Success Initiative and in collaboration with Black, Latine, and bilingual communities and those who experience poverty, this project will design an end-to-end solution for pre-K children, educators, and families. This holistic solution will include an interactive student assessment and results dashboards that enable teachers and caregivers to better understand the competencies and progress of each student, while providing actionable learning recommendations for the classroom and home.

Organizations: EarlyBird, Collier Connection, Drs. Elsa Cárdenas-Hagan and Eric Tridas, SoapBox Labs

Building a Research-Based Approach to Bilingual Assessment: Although multilingual children bring unique skills and knowledge in each of the languages they speak to education settings, most assessments only capture their skills in English. This interdisciplinary team aims to create a bilingual assessment product that captures multilingual children’s distributed skills across English and Spanish; produces reliable, comparable skill estimates across multilingual and monolingual children; and is actionable, guiding teachers to targeted instruction.

Organizations: Mighty Play, Kinoo, Berkeley Evaluation and Assessment Research (BEAR) Center

A Screenless, Book-Based Learning and Assessment Platform: This team explores the possibility of using a novel, multimodal, handheld device, the “Kinoo Reader,”­ to teach and measure children’s language and literacy skills while they interact with books that they know and love and that may already be present in their pre-K classrooms. The team will explore the feasibility of using the Kinoo Reader to equitably capture children's language and literacy competencies by offering playful, culturally supportive, asset-based stories. Using the Kinoo Reader, children will engage with interactive stories and activities through movement-based play, songs, light-beam pointer selection, and voice recognition. The Kinoo Reader captures children’s multi-modal responses and reactions as a means of scaffolding learning and generating reliable estimates of young children’s development. Easy to read, actionable reports are generated for use by educators and families.

More about the Measures for Early Success Initiative: Since 2021, MDRC and Substantial, a human-centered design firm, have engaged pre-K educators and families, as well as academic advisors, program leaders, and administrators from federal, state, and local systems, to understand the current landscape of assessments in the pre-K space. Over the past six months, MDRC, in collaboration with Promise Venture Studio, Learning Tapestry, Kareem Edouard, and Russell Shilling, worked with organizations to develop proposals for reimagined assessments of children’s early learning skills in the pre-K space, from which these teams were selected. For more information about Measures for Early Success, visit the project page.