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Indicator: Kindergarten readiness: cognition


Children develop and demonstrate foundational math and scientific reasoning skills.


  • Percentage of children meeting benchmarks on teacher-reported kindergarten readiness assessment, such as:
    • Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP) Cognition domain
    • Ready 4 Kindergarten Early Learning Assessment (R4K ELA) Mathematics and Science domains
    • Teaching Strategies GOLD (TS GOLD) Cognitive and Mathematics subscales
  • Or, percentage of children meeting benchmarks on direct child assessments, such as:
    • Woodcock-Johnson IV Tests of Early Cognition and Academic Development (ECAD) Number Sense subtest
    • Individual Growth and Development Indicators (IGDIs) Early Numeracy assessment
    • Research Based Early Mathematics Assessment (REMA)

Data Source(s)


Why it matters

Children’s cognition, including math and scientific reading skills, is essential for a growing number of tasks. Children’s early skills in this domain set the course for their later achievement, with the skills that children demonstrate at an early age being the strongest predictors of their later school achievement. For math skills in particular, disparities by race, ethnicity, and income appear early and widen during early childhood. Compared with White children, Black and Latino children enter kindergarten 9 to 10 months behind in math skills, on average. As noted in the E-W system conditions section of this report, there is inequitable access to quality pre-K education that promotes positive outcomes for all children.

What to know about measurement

This indicator’s measurement considerations are similar to those noted above under the kindergarten readiness: language and literacy indicator. Children’s cognition skills can be measured through direct child assessments, but kindergarten readiness assessments, which ask teachers to report and rate children’s skill development, are increasingly common and less burdensome to implement at scale. For example, the DRDP has one subscale that measures cognition, including math and science skills. These items ask teachers to rate children’s development of number sense, measurement, patterning, shape recognition, cause and effect, inquiry through observation and investigation, and understanding of objects and their characteristics. As noted in the kindergarten readiness: language and literacy indicator discussion, these assessments should only be used for formative purposes.

Source frameworks

Kindergarten readiness appeared in 10 source frameworks reviewed for this report. Our proposed definition and measures align with the five domains of kindergarten readiness summarized in the Getting Ready framework, prepared by Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, which are also included in the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework.


The framework's recommendations are based on syntheses of existing research. Please see the framework report for a list of works cited.

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