The easyCBM is not a Readiness Test
The easyCBM (Curriculum Based Measurement) was developed by U of O faculty to align with RTI (Response to Intervention), which is a strategy for serving children with special needs. The purpose of the easyCBM is to identify children who need more help than other children (screening) and then to monitor their progress. So, it's meant to catch children who have deficits and to track them to see if their skills improve. The purpose of readiness testing is to determine the percentage of children in a sample (i.e., State, District, County) who have the expected prerequisite knowledge, skills, and dispositions to be able to learn the kindergarten curriculum and be successful. So test items on the easyCBM reflect what children learn during Kindergarten - the "C" in CBM is for curriculum - but readiness test items reflect what children know before they go to kindergarten.
The result is that the test items and the test mechanics are too difficult, which is stressful for children. Also only two scales of the literacy assessment and one scale of the math assessment can be used because all the other scales (i.e., reading fluency) are even more difficult and very few preschoolers can answer any of the items correctly. This greatly narrows what is being assessed.
The most basic “rule” of testing is that you never use a test for a different purpose than for which it was designed.
Why Was It Selected?:
A report from the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment Workgroup to the Early Learning Council (July 12, 2012) recommends using the easyCBM rather than what is used in Washington State (Teaching Strategies Gold), which is a readiness assessment and developmentally appropriate because it reflects what children typically learn in preschool and includes many areas of development. The easyCBM was selected because it "better aligned with current assessment practices in kindergartens and elementary schools and has a lower cost in both dollars and teacher time for training and administration." The Workgroup's recommendation is the same as the recommendation made by Megan McClellan (OSU) and Jane Squires (U of O) which is appended to the Report and has the same date. Dr. McClellan is a researcher focused on children's self-regulation and Dr. Squires' field is Special Education. A statewide assessment should be selected because it is the best one to use, not because it is convenient and cheap. If we can't afford to do it right, then we shouldn't to it at all.
The timed aspect of the test may be meant to keep the test short, but the actual result is that children and teachers feel pressured and stressed. The reported data on the number of letter names and sounds that children “know,” is actually the number they can identify in one minute. In most tests for young children, testing stops after the child misses 3 answers in a row, but in the letter naming and letter sound tests, it can be as many 30 misses before the testing stops. The multiple-choice method used in the math test is something that most new kindergartners have never seen before. How to answer becomes the task for many children as much as what to answer, leading to inaccurate results.