Collecting Data In Kindergarten – Making It Work!

Oct 5, 2014 | Assessments, August, Back To School, Freebies, June/July, Teacher Wisdom, TpT in Action | 13 comments

Data collection for kindergarten!  We are ready for this!  Kids learning at a nice pace and they are ready to take some ownership in learning and ready to see those gains.

So let’s start with the why. This may seem like a very basic question but sometimes we need to really go back to the root of things and realize we are required to complete tasks in the classroom because they serve a purpose.  That purpose is student growth in this situation!

Data collection can be daunting, time consuming, “a waste of instructional time”, and so many other things.  We can’t go there because in today’s day and age it is a requirement so we must make it work for us!  It is important because it leads you directly to your next teaching points and provides proof your students are learning!  So it is extremely valuable to you as a teacher and is something you should embrace with open arms because it will make your job easier!

Schools often dictate to use what testing resources we have to use.  So I encourage you to embrace those assessments, look for the positive in them and use that data to drive your instruction.  The easiest way for me to do that is through a simple Excel Spreadsheet!  That’s it.  Type the students names down the column, add the row titles for dates or specific content, and begin to see the trends almost instantly with a pencil and a clipboard!  A little time consuming upfront but in the end it will payoff immensely!  That’s tip number and it’s so simple you just need to start.

Another thing I do in my classroom that makes huge impact is building those skills into my instruction.  Today’s game is fluency and automaticity.  For kindergarten right now that means practicing letter fluency with these Free Letter Naming Fluency practice pages!  You can easily add into your daily or weekly routine and see result fairly quickly.  (There is also a free nonsense word fluency freebie as well for our first grade friends or those ready for blending!)

I don’t post this without opening myself up to some debate… “practicing for the test is not appropriate” and all those arguments we all know.  I am not practicing for the test.   Letter naming fluency – the ability to recall letters quickly shows automaticity.

For me, I relate it to riding a bike.  I don’t teach a child to ride bike by giving them 100 activities that include a bike, are about a bike, or in the bike family of activities.  I teach a child to ride a bike by putting them on a bike.  So simple right?  Same thing… if my goal is automaticity… and I want kids to read without processing what they are seeing.. then I am going to teach them and have them practice how to do this.  We do this with letters, we do this with shapes, we do this with numbers, and we pretty practice the theory of automaticity with everything at our age range!  Just because the official letter test is in this form does not mean it is not a valuable instructional tool as well.  Teaching is a passion… go with what you think is right and with what you are required to in your school!

Kindergarteners are also ready to track what they learn!  We do this within reason and with lots of support with my Free Monster Data Book!   Posted for free with tips and tricks because I understand how difficult this is to accomplish in a kindergarten classroom!  I have lived, I was required to do it, and to be honest… I was required to do other things that rocked my beliefs as a teacher!  (I eventually quit that district and followed what was in my heart but that’s a whole other blog post!)

So these are easy to use graphs the kids can manage to help track their data on a level they understand.  They don’t have to be perfect, they will not always be the most accurate, but they build accountability with students for learning and show growth on an individual level that cannot be matched by any other program IMO.

Above picture is tacking how many letters they know specifically.  I check the letters they gained, they go back and color only those in… support them with that at first.  This allows them and you to focus on the next best letters to do in small groups because it is so clear!  (In the above picture I would probably do z (because most kids know that letter already and it’s easy.)  What would you do?
We also track our DIBELS progress monitoring.  We do one a month as needed.  Students who don’t need this graph, we just leave it blank in their book!  If bringing the data to the forefront for a student is not going to help them… then why do it?  (Although it does make a great parent resource.)
Again… free Monster Data Book!  With tips and tricks… you can’t go wrong!
Last resource I use for data tracking is Checklist Assessments.  This is an organized list of the standards that I personally track in my classroom.  They are spreadsheets by concept that and I literally with have a pencil and clipboard and check off when I see a child knows the letter or number or whatever on that list.
Look at the above checklist that are a part of my Kindergarten Checklist Assessments… I can see exactly what children to call to my small group table to work on writing the letter B!  It’s amazing!  I do pencil so that I can circle and erase if I need to call attention to a certain cell on the spreadsheet!  Beginning of the year kinder… useful data to collect is letter sounds, letter names, shape names, letter identification, counting to number, and colors.  (Click the link to see those.)
Checklist Assessments for Kindergarten
And then after students accomplish a whole line of data… I highlight their name so that visually I can let go of that child for that particular skills set.  (You can see that in the picture below.)

I know this topic can create some frustration on our part because we just want to teach. I would love to hear your concerns, what you do, and any comments of encouragement you have if you use data in your classrooms!  Comment below!



  1. Jess

    Love this, thanks for sharing… can I suggest you put the letters for letter tracking sheets out of order?

  2. Linda

    Wonderful post Jen! I couldn’t live without my checklists either especially when I taught Kinder!

  3. Linda

    We had to test every Friday, and it took all day! I tried to make all the other activities fun and engaging. Thanks for sharing with us!

    Down the Learning Road

    • Jennifer @ Simply Kinder

      Oh I hate test Friday’s as a parent of a struggling reader! I am sorry you have to do that. Testing should be embedded throughout IMO. =) Glad to hear you survived!

  4. lorena

    Wonderful post, thank you for sharing your freebies!!! 🙂

  5. Lee Ann Rasey

    What frustrates me is having no time. So the movies go on and instruction time is lost. I have 2 classes for ELA, mine and another teacher’s class. I have her class for 1 hour and that is the only time I have to assess them. Time with my own class is limited as well. Thank you for sharing these tips and the assessment book.

    • Jennifer @ Simply Kinder

      I totally understand what you are saying! Put a little time in them now and come later most of the data will be collected and you won’t even notice the loss of time because it will be minimal!

    • Lee Ann Rasey

      This is my first year in kindergarten at this school after teaching K years ago. The teachers that I am joining all assess right before grade cards each quarter so they know what grades to give and they spend so much time doing it with each student. I have always tried to assess consistently so I don’t have to do it all at once. We also have to do AIMSWeb progress monitoring every 2 weeks with the lower students, and we are still in the process of doing our state’s new kindergarten readiness test which takes so much time per child. I’ll be doing that during my plan time when kids at the computer lab.
      Do you assess each standard individually?

    • Jennifer @ Simply Kinder

      I actually don’t assess each standard separately. Here’s why… I don’t need to overwhelm myself and the students and doing every single standard is counter productive. That’s why I focus on the ones that will make the greatest impact for the students (the ones I listed in the post are for the most part what I do.) Are you required by your district to report on every single standard? Because some report card systems require that.. but that does not necessarily mean you have to “test” them on every single standard. The checklist approach can help you check off as you see kids prove they know a skill throughout your day. My checklists are my babies… I keep them with me at all times and am constantly marking what kids know! It’s seriously so valuable!

    • Lee Ann Rasey

      Our district doesn’t necessarily require us to, but the kindergarten teachers made up the grade card and they were thinking that they had to include all common core standards. Now that I joined the team this year, I am suppose to follow what they do. The only way they know the students’ grades is to assess them right before they do grade cards. That’s why I like to keep up with it so I don’t have to do it all at once for the 2 ELA classes that I teach.

      • Theresa

        Lee Ann,
        I am in the same situation that you are. I am a 2nd year kinder teacher. Our checklist also has standards that we assess the students on throughout the year. It was what was being used when I came into kindergarten last year. We also AIMS test. I came upon your comment as I was looking for ideas to assess as I go instead of the week before the grade cards are due. (This is how my partners all do it.)
        Thank you Jennifer for your post! I have learned from it and can’t wait to use the resource you are sharing.

        • Jennifer @ Simply Kinder

          You are very welcome!! Happy New Year!


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