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About The KOT 2018-01-10T14:06:41+00:00

What is the new Kindergarten Observation Tool (KOT)?

As part of its comprehensive plan to ensure that all New Mexico students have the opportunity to succeed in school, the Public Education Department (PED) has developed an observation-based assessment tool that will be used as children enter kindergarten. For the past seven years, PreK teachers in New Mexico have been administering a similar assessment tool and using the results for curriculum and instructional planning. Because this effort has been so well-received by educators and families, the KOT will incorporate many elements of the New Mexico PreK Observational Assessment.

The administration of the KOT is funded for all New Mexico kindergarten students by the PED with state-wide implementation in the fall and during K-3 Plus for kindergarten students participating in the K-3 Plus summer program. All assessment processes are in keeping with the National Research Council’s recommendations on early childhood assessment. Because the KOT will be used for all children entering kindergarten, special steps have been taken to ensure it is appropriate for use with New Mexico’s diverse student population and that it contains culturally sensitive content. This observation tool allows for students to respond in their home language.

What will the KOT assess?

The Kindergarten Observation Tool (KOT) will support teachers in observing what entering students know and can do in relation to the kindergarten standards for learning described in the New Mexico Early Learning Guidelines: Birth through Kindergarten. The Guidelines are aligned with the state’s kindergarten Common Core State Standards in English language arts and mathematics. The outcomes and indicators for kindergarteners that are described in that document are linked to learning in six developmental domains:

  1. Physical Development, Health, and Well-Being
  2. Literacy
  3. Numeracy
  4. Scientific Conceptual Understanding
  5. Self, Family, and Community
  6. Approaches to Learning.

Following the Pilot and Field Test phases, New Mexico kindergarten teachers were asked to provide recommendations about these indicators to ensure that the final set fully captures all critical elements of kindergarten readiness. From the 67 indicators across all domains, 24 key indicators (“Essential Indicators”) have been identified by New Mexico educators and WestEd researchers as high priorities for instruction and appropriate for an assessment intended to provide a snapshot of what children know and can do at school entry.

How will the KOT be administered?

Following training on administering and scoring the KOT, kindergarten teachers will observe students as they engage in a variety of classroom activities and use a scoring rubric to assign a rating that describes their level of performance on a set of target behaviors. Teachers can record their observations using the online KOT Application (KOTA), Quick Look Recording Sheets, or a method of their own. Final Ratings will be submitted using the KOTA. Once all student-level assessment data are entered, teachers will be able to run queries that can help them make curricular and instructional decisions. The data gathered the KOT is also great to share with families.

How will KOT results be used?

This authentic observation tool will provide kindergarten teachers with critical information regarding children’s learning that can be used to inform curriculum planning and differentiated instruction. Doing so will help to ensure that each student’s unique learning need(s) are met. KOT data also can be shared with families interested in fostering their children’s learning across multiple domains.

KOT Key Points:

The KOT:

  • Is an observational tool conducted during the course of regular instruction, within the first 30 days of kindergarten
  • Assesses the whole child across several developmental domains: social/emotional, developmental, and academic
  • Helps teachers:
    • Tailor their instruction to meet each student’s needs and build on his/her strengths
    • Have more informed conversations with families about their children’s knowledge, skills, and needs
    • Better understand where their students are at the beginning of the school year
  • Helps identify statewide trends in early childhood knowledge and skills
  • Helps identify early childhood and early elementary professional development needs and community supports/resources
  • The KOT should not be used:
    • To evaluate the effectiveness of individual teachers, schools, or districts
      • As an indicator for NMTEACH summative reports
    • To determine whether a program continues to receive funding
    • To deny access to kindergarten for any child
    • To screen students with special needs
Page last updated January 10, 2018