Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology


School Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (xvi, 268 pages) : illustrations

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Deborah K Kundert

Committee Members

Deborah C May, Jason H Northrup


Child Find, English Language Learners, Kindergarten Screening, Preschool Screening, School Readiness Testing, Special Education, Kindergarten, Readiness for school, Education, Primary, Preschool tests

Subject Categories

Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Elementary Education


Kindergarten screening is an opportunity to assess all entering school children and decide whether they are in need of further evaluation. Current school district level policies and procedures, however, have not previously been documented on a national level, including those to be used for individuals from diverse backgrounds (i.e., English Language Learners). In the past, school entry assessments have, at times, been linked to decisions about children's school readiness, which is problematic because screening does not provide diagnostic information, and definitive conclusions may not be made based on the results. Also, a major challenge for screening programs is the limited number of screening tests that meet adequate standards. This study examined current kindergarten screening practices in the United States, and how these practices align with best practice recommendations. In addition to providing an overview of district-level screening processes, the impact of current educational issues on screening programs, specifically accountability systems, was also explored. A random sample of school districts from the 50 states and the District of Columbia was called via telephone to obtain the contact information of kindergarten screening coordinators. Data were collected through a web-based survey with a response rate of 45.5% (n = 430). The survey was most often completed by a kindergarten teacher. Based on this study, it does not appear that kindergarten screening practices have improved since previous studies and recommendations in the literature. Approximately half of school districts indicated using adequate screening tests, and a similar number reported using screening for its intended purpose. These were not co-occurring subsets, however, as only 28% of respondents reported both. A major theme that emerged through responses and comments was the view that children must be ready for school, versus schools being ready for children. Kindergarten screening results are misused for a range purposes, including teacher accountability, response to intervention programming, and progress monitoring. Finally, it seems that few school districts have procedures for screening students who are English Language Learners, and when modifications are used, their appropriateness is questionable. Implications are offered for training, professional development, program evaluation, and policy development.