The PA KEI is a teacher-reported measure of children’s competencies at the start of kindergarten. The PA KEI was designed to be used as part of Pennsylvania’s comprehensive prenatal-to-third-grade (P3) initiative as a resource to create a common language about children’s development and instructional supports across early childhood practitioners, school administrators, and families. The primary purpose of the PA KEI is to provide scientifically valid information to kindergarten teachers on how individual children are functioning on standards-based competencies as they enter kindergarten; teachers will use this information to inform their classroom instruction. A secondary purpose is to provide state, district, and school administrators with an evidence-supported, descriptive snapshot of children’s competencies at kindergarten entry.
In 2014, OCDEL commissioned researchers at American Institutes for Research (AIR) and the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) to conduct a rigorous validity study of the PA KEI as part of its ongoing continuous improvement strategy. This study sought to determine (a) the scientifically based dimensions of children’s competency measured by the PA KEI, (b) the evidence-supported uses of the PA KEI, and (c) evidence pointing to potential areas in which ongoing improvements of the PA KEI would enhance its use.
Rigorous validity analyses of the PA KEI provided scientific evidence for two dimensions of child competency that can be applied to all groups of kindergarten children: Learning Engagement Competencies and Emerging Academic Competencies. In line with the two primary aims of the PA KEI, this scientific study supports two uses:
1. Evidence supports use of KEI data by teachers to inform instruction for all children (gender, race/ ethnicity, DLLs, and students with IEPs). Teachers may use:
(a) overall scores on the Emerging Academic Competencies and Learning Engagement Competencies dimensions, and
(b) individual item ratings from items within these dimensions.
2. Evidence supports use of KEI data by state policymakers, school district leaders, and principals to provide a descriptive snapshot of all children rated on the PA KEI. Policymakers and school district leaders may use:
(a) average scores on the Emerging Academic Competencies and Learning Engagement Competencies dimensions across all children rated on the PA KEI, and
(b) average scores on these dimensions for all children rated on the PA KEI in their district or school.
At this time, no scientific support was found for making comparisons among districts or among schools within districts. To access a communication brief regarding these findings, as well as, the full technical report, click here.
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