Skip to main content

Oregon State Flag An official website of the State of Oregon »

Department of Early Learning and Care

Early Learning Transition


The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and Department of Early Learning and Care (DELC) are collaborating with communities across the state to redesign the Oregon Kindergarten Assessment (OKA). The redesigned tool will support anti-racist practices and a whole-child approach, fostering a safe and supportive environment in which Oregon's young children and families can learn and thrive.

kids playing at a table 

On May 19, ODE and ELD presented the initial plan for developing a redesigned tool, “Early Learning Transition Check-In: A Collaborative Engagement with Community,” to the Oregon State Board of Education.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the OKA was suspended by the State Board of Education from fall 2020 to 2021. The OKA was previously given each fall to entering kindergartners to assess three core areas of learning and development: early literacy, early math and interpersonal/self-regulation skills. The delay presented ODE and ELD with an opportunity to redesign the tool with Oregon communities. Together, we can develop a reimagined tool that is meaningful and supportive of Oregon children, families, and educators.

ODE and ELD are collaborating with an advisory panel to redesign the assessment tool. The advisory panel consists of early educators, kindergarten educators, early learning system partners, and researchers. With guidance from an advisory panel, ODE and ELD developed the below purpose, goals, and timeline.

Pilot Information

Fall 2022 Pilot

The family interview questions and training materials were developed and modified following feedback from family listening sessions in spring 2022 and from the project's advisory panel.

Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and the Early Learning Division (ELD) began recruitment in spring 2022 for a district pilot to test out the newly designed tool with educators and families. ODE and ELD focused on recruiting schools who serve communities and children at the margins of the education system and who were least well served by the previous Oregon Kindergarten Assessment. Participation in the district pilot was voluntary. The pilot began with 16 schools interested in participating. Due to unanticipated circumstances, seven schools contacted ODE to postpone their participation in the fall 2022 pilot.

To prepare for the fall 2022 pilot, schools received materials in summer 2022 that included culturally responsive scheduling techniques, sample invitations, sample scripts, and facilitation guides. ODE and ELD also provided educators with a recorded webinar training and hosted optional Question and Answer sessions. The recorded training covered the following topics:

  • Culturally responsive scheduling
  • Setting up welcoming environments
  • Successful techniques to involve interpreters
  • Tips for successful conversations with families
  • Data collection process

ODE and ELD launched the pilot in fall 2022. Two of the schools completed the family interviews before starting the school year. Nine schools participated in both the pilot and feedback sessions. The schools are located across the state in rural, small cities, and large metropolitan areas. Three schools have dual immersion Spanish programs and many schools serve families who speak a language other than English.

Fall 2023 Pilot

A total of 13 districts participated in the Fall 2023 Pilot. The Family conversation was implemented in 23 schools with over 1,000 families participating. Recruitment was targeted to include small, medium, and large school districts in both rural and urban areas of the state. A breakdown of the pilot locations can be seen in the charts below.

OASBO Zones.png  
OASBO Zones.png 

To prepare for the fall 2023 pilot, schools received materials created by ODE and DELC in summer 2023 that included:

  • ODE's Engaging Equity Module
  • Asynchronous webinar covering the following topics:
    • Culturally responsive scheduling
    • Setting up welcoming environments
    • Successful techniques to involve interpreters
    • Tips for successful conversations with families
    • Data collection process
    • Video demonstration of a Family Conversation
  • Family Conversation Facilitation Guide
  • Live Q&A Sessions
  • Note Taking Forms

Community Conversations

2022 Pilot

To gather feedback from the fall 2022 pilot, ELD and ODE partnered with Oregon's Kitchen Table (OKT). OKT conducted nearly 20 community conversations with families and educators on the process and their experiences. All participants were compensated for their time and input. Most of the sessions were in person with food and child care provided. The sessions were hosted by English- and Spanish-speaking facilitators and liaisons. A few sessions were virtual and hosted on Zoom. There were several families and educators who requested private conversations with OKT.

Following the community conversations, OKT gathered the information and published a report with recommendations. Visit to download the executive summary and report.

OKT had four recommendations:

  • Ensure timely communication with educators and families.
  • Put questions regarding pre-kindergarten care, programs, and services into context.
  • Provide opportunities for follow-up with families.
  • Strengthen culturally-specific outreach to families.

In response to feedback and recommendations from the community conversations, and following input from the advisory panel, ODE and ELD developed priorities for the fall 2023 statewide pilot. Click below to learn more about priorities and action steps.

ODE AND ELD Priorities for the Fall 2023 Pilot:

What's Next?

ODE and ELD plan will host listening sessions with regional partners and conduct culturally specific engagement opportunities for community to share feedback on the priorities and redesign components. In fall 2023, ODE and ELD will launch a second pilot of the family interview, expanding the number of participating schools. Several schools who participated in the fall 2022 pilot have expressed interest in the fall 2023 pilot.

2023 Pilot

Based on feedback from families and educators who participated in the 2022 pilot the following changes were implemented for the 2023 pilot:

  • Name Change: Based on feedback the name “Family Interview” was changed to Family Conversation” to encourage a relationship based approach, and avoid one entity’s dominance over another 
  • Clear early and often in different ways as possible 
  • Opportunities for educators to ask clarifying questions directly to ODE and DELC staff 
  • Refine Professional Learning Materials - Updates to the learning materials provided to pilot sites included: 
    • Clear Purpose 
    • Assurance Techniques 
    • Facilitation Guide 
    • Video Recording

Panel Composition

The Advisory panel is composed of kindergarten and preschool educators, early learning directors, and researchers with expertise in early learning assessment practices. Oregon Department of Education (ODE)’s selection process ensured that panel members have: 

  • A strong equity lens 
  • Represent Oregon’s diverse communities, including those who identify as Black, Indigenous, Latino/a/x and other people of color 
  • Represent different regions around the state 
  • Have experience delivering the Kindergarten Assessment and/or have used the Kindergarten Assessment data to inform classroom practices and educational systemse

Project Purpose

The redesigned “Kindergarten Assessment” will collect a statewide snapshot of data about children and families as they begin kindergarten. The primary purpose will be to inform state-level decisions about Oregon’s early learning and care sector. The redesigned components will also meaningfully support families in building relationships with their kindergarten educators by inviting them to share about their experiences before kindergarten.

Project Goals

  • Incorporate anti-racist practices in assessment approach
  • Elevate community voice in assessment design
  • Strengthen connections between families and educators
  • Inform early learning and care programs, practices, and policies
  • Improve efforts to meet the needs of Oregon children and families

Project Timeline

Throughout the redesign process, ODE and DELC will be guided by the voices of Oregon families and educators, the Advisory Panel, and research.

May and June 2022

Host family listening sessions to gather initial feedback on the interview questions. Families of color and families with children experiencing disabilities are prioritized. All families participating are compensated for their participation.

Girl reading 

July and August 2022

Create training and professional learning materials to guide educators and school staff. Revise materials throughout redesign.

September 2022

Begin initial testing the family interview component of the redesign with five to 10 schools across the state, intentionally engaging with families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and families of students experiencing disabilities.

September 2023

Host community engagement opportunities for feedback on redesign components, which will inform revisions prior to field testing. Conduct a statewide field test of family interview. 

September 2024

Implement the family interview component of the redesign statewide; conduct community engagement to identify and inform the addition of additional components.

September 2025

Field test any additional components of the redesign statewide.

September 2026

Implement all components of the redesign statewide.

Family Listening Sessions

In May and June of 2022, ODE and ELD staff conducted Family Listening Sessions with a small number of families to gain initial feedback on the interview questions and process. The purpose of these family listening sessions was to ask families if the questions created were clear and meaningful, if the process was welcoming and easy to conduct, and if they would recommend any changes to improve the questions or the experience. In June of 2022, ODE and ELD staff also consulted on the family interview with the project’s Advisory Panel. The Advisory Panel includes early educators, kindergarten educators, early learning system partners, and researchers. ODE and ELD is revising the family interview design based on feedback from the family listening sessions and from the Advisory Panel. The revised version will be used during a Fall 2022 Pilot to try out the new tool with a larger number of kindergarten educators and families. For more information, ready the Family Listening Sessions Summary below.