KOT is Making a Difference
The kindergarten classrooms at Mrs. Williamson’s school joined more than 300 kindergarten classrooms throughout New Mexico in using KOT this year to gather valuable information about what their students know and can do within the first 30 days of school.
Coral Charter Community School is a tuition-free public charter school offering single gender classes for both boys and girls from pre-K through 6th grade. Mrs. Williamson teaches the girl’s kindergarten class and Anthony Kavanaugh teaches the boy’s kindergarten class. In implementing KOT this year, both teachers noted that the tool is easy to use as the observations take place during routine daily activities.
“The only additional work for teachers using KOT involves inputting the observations for each child into the KOT computer program,” explained Mr. Kavanaugh. Mrs. Williamson added, “The KOT program interface is very user-friendly and provides a snapshot of the whole child in 24 indicators."
Coral Charter Community School’s Head Administrator and Co-founder Donna Eldredge embraced the opportunity to implement KOT at her school. “The more you know is always a plus for both teachers and children. Eldredge said, “KOT provides teachers with instant results so adjustments in teaching to a child’s individual learning style and needs can be made right away.”
Joe Manley, Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA) Coordinator with the Central Region Educational Cooperative, explained that teachers use a rubric rating system to observe student behaviors and skills in the natural classroom and school environments. “Six developmental domains are observed via the KOT process, giving the teacher a well-rounded view of the whole child and ultimately providing teachers with information to better meet student's individual needs,” Manley explained.
The six developmental observation domains include:
Physical Development, Health, and Well-Being
Scientific Conceptual Understanding
Self, Family, and Community
Approaches to Learning
Teacher input through focus groups is currently underway to gather additional information that will guide various components of the KOT, including: rubrics and indicators; processes and policies; technology; and professional development. “These focus groups have been amazing and the participants are truly driving the revision process,” Manley noted.
Even though its not required, Mrs. Williamson intends to re-evaluate her students using KOT at the end of the school year to better understand how knowing what a child needs and adjusting her teaching accordingly have helped her students build the foundation to succeed in school.
Thirty-nine school district and seven charter schools participated in the KOT Field Test this fall. Implementation in every public school is scheduled for 2016. The KOT has been developed with funding from the Race To the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant. For more information about the KOT, visit: http://www.earlylearningnm.org/kindergarten-observation-tool