Best Start Kindergarten resources

Information for schools fact sheet

The Best Start Kindergarten Assessment - Information for schools (PDF 162KB) (staff only) outlines the assessment and answers frequently asked questions.

Implementation advice for teachers

The “Implementation advice for teachers” animation provides advice to support the successful implementation and effective use of the assessment.

Implementation advice for teachers using BSKA

All children start school with different abilities in literacy and numeracy. At the beginning of Kindergarten, it is important that teachers identify their knowledge, skills and understanding.

One way of helping new kindergarten children feel relaxed and at ease is to take the time to explain to them what the assessment is, and what sort of questions you are going to ask and why. Students generally need up to 5 seconds to answer each question. Let students know that you are going to give them time to think and organise their thoughts. Recording observations provides important insights such as how the student pronounced a word, if prompts were required or if you probed for further information. This information records student engagement and contributes to parent feedback, conversations or team meetings.

You may notice your student using their fingers to represent numbers. The use of fingers is an effective early numeracy strategy and should be encouraged. When observing a student's numerical skills, allow them to organize and count counters independently. This will allow you to observe other skills like one to one correspondence

Ensure you communicate with families as soon as possible after the assessment to provide feedback, using an interpreter if required.

Use information from PLAN2 to develop differentiated teaching and learning programs that build on each student's prior knowledge and experience.

Although the Best Start Kindergarten Assessment is an assessment upon entry into Kindergarten, it is recommended that the assessment is conducted within the first five weeks of school.

If you have any questions during the assessment period, do not hesitate to lodge an enquiry ticket that is in the top right corner of the help section of your menu in PLAN2.

The ‘Engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in the Best Start Kindergarten Assessment” animation provides advice to support and work with ATSI families and communities when administering this assessment.

Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families

Engaging Aboriginal  and Torres Strait Islander families in the Best Start Kindergarten Assessment.

Engaging with Aboriginal families and communities is critical to improving Aboriginal educational outcomes.  Reaching out to Aboriginal families prior to the Best Start Kindergarten Assessment is an opportunity to connect and build strong, respectful relationships which strengthen transition to school.

 Aboriginal Education Officers and Elders are a resource that can support Aboriginal families to understand the structure of the BSKA and how data is collected to identify individual student’s strengths.

Parents must be reassured that the BSKA is not a test, but a snapshot of their child’s abilities on that day to  help their teacher plan a learning pathway that caters to their individual learning needs.

When administering the assessment, it is vital to create a safe environment where students feel respected and valued. Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander students may choose not to respond when asked. They may say what they think you would like to hear, out of fear of shame that they think they have made a mistake.  If you need support, utilise the knowledge of your AEO or Elder by asking them to be present during the assessment.

During the assessment allow ample time for students to demonstrate their literacy and numeracy skills. If needed, rephrase questions or ask students to clarify responses. 

Some students may speak Aboriginal English and this must not be recorded as a speech impairment or language deficit.

Providing parents and students feedback after the assessment is vital. Work collaboratively with your AEO, Elder or local DoE support personnel to have group conversations about the BSKA experience and the literacy and numeracy skills that their child demonstrated.

Strong family and school connections will support Aboriginal Students in achievement, engagement and wellbeing at school. 

The ‘Best Start Kindergarten Assessment and English is an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D) students” animation provides advice to support and work with students who are EAL/D, Language Background Other Than English (LBOTE) and bilingual speakers when administering this assessment.

Best Start Kindergarten and EALD students

Best Start Kindergarten Assessment and EAL/D students. 

Almost one in four students in NSW Government Schools are learning English as an additional language. While English is acknowledged as the language of our education system, the reality for many students is that they may speak two or more languages. 

Students may be described as LBOTE, which means a student comes from a Language Background Other Than English. Not all LBOTE students require support to learn English.  EAL/D learners are students whose first language is not Standard Australian English. EAL/D learners require additional support to achieve English language proficiency. 

As the Best Start Kindergarten Assessment is conducted in English, EAL/D children often have difficulty demonstrating their literacy and numeracy skills.

To support EAL/D students taking the initial Best Start Kindergarten assessment in English, teachers can add visuals or gestures to unpack the vocabulary of the questions within the assessment. Repeating or rephrasing questions and allowing additional response time will also provide support for EAL/D students. Teachers should record the use of these strategies in the comments section of the assessment for your records and reference in team meetings.

Some schools have access to bilingual support staff such as community language teachers, bilingual SLSOs and other staff who speak and read the students home language fluently. Teachers can utilise these support staff to interpret the questions for the student, with the classroom teacher observing and recording their observations in PLAN2.

Teachers should be mindful of the language demands of texts.  For instance, words used in assessments may be substituted to account for students’ lexical understandings in English and their home language. Schools have the ability to make case-by-case judgements on assessment timelines. Individual assessments can be delayed for students with complex needs or trauma.

For further support, contact

Administration resources

Note: For Best Start Kindergarten 2022, all schools will continue to use the 2019 versions of these resources.

Online tool

Teachers administer the assessment using the online tool for entering student responses. The online tool will be available via the Assessing Literacy and Numeracy website (ALAN) at the beginning of 2022.

Forms for recording responses offline are available for download where required (staff only). Please note that these forms may only be used in specific circumstances.

BSKA and PLAN2 Area of Focus templates

To supplement existing school practices, a series of PLAN2 Area of Focus templates have been designed to identify how students are progressing in specific literacy and numeracy skills that are assessed in the Best Start Kindergarten Assessment.

The templates developed include:

  • Creating texts, spelling and punctuation

  • Listening, speaking and interacting

  • Phonic knowledge and word recognition

  • Phonological awareness

  • Understanding texts and fluency

  • Number patterns and algebraic thinking

  • Quantifying numbers

  • Additive strategies

These templates were designed using the Areas of focus PLAN2 feature. This allows teachers to:

  • create and save a customised set of syllabus outcome(s) and progression indicators for a select group of students

  • use for explicit teaching of literacy and numeracy across the curriculum

  • monitor students' learning

Teachers can then adapt these templates to tailor teaching specifically to student needs.

The following video presents a school-based scenario on how to access and use the PLAN2 Areas of focus templates.

More information

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