i Am-READY Pre-K Assess and Learn offers a comprehensive informal assessment tool for preschool children. The app presents interactive assessment activities and observation questions in the areas of reading readiness, math readiness, language and concepts, fine motor skills, tracing/printing/coloring/drawing, puzzles, gross motor skills, self-help and social skills/behavior.
- Dozens of skills assessed
- Many interactive and fun assessment activities
- Multiple student profiles
- Records oral exercises
- Practice activities available
i Am-READY is a well-designed tool for parents and early childhood educators to informally assess children’s progress in key developmental areas. Adult mentors can guide children through the interactive activities, record their responses and view a summary report showing the level of mastery of each skill. Activities are clearly presented and engaging. Questions are clearly-worded and understandable, so the app is useful to professionals and nonprofessionals alike.
i Am-READY allows assessment in nine critical areas to determine if a student is ready for success in kindergarten. The skills chosen match with many common curricular programs used in preschools around the country, but users should familiarize themselves with the demands of their local kindergarten programs to determine if these are the skills that kindergarten teachers use to assess readiness. It would be helpful for the app to remind parents and care givers to do this. It would also be good to clarify the level of performance on the assessments that constitutes “acceptable” or “needing attention” for parents and other non-education professionals. Currently, the reports indicate “Yes,” “Sometimes” and “Not yet” for each skill, which some people will find confusing.
The app allows users to create profiles and reports for multiple students, making it very useful for classroom settings. It allows users to record student verbalizations so that teachers can return later for more extensive analysis, which makes the app easy for volunteers or paraprofessionals to use in a classroom. The assessments are quick to give, and can be performed in sections instead of all at the same time.
i Am-READY uses a combination of interactive exercises, voice recordings, and observational questions to gather information for the assessment. The interactive activities are engaging and children will find them enjoyable because of their game-like qualities. The voice recordings are of good quality, and include a recording of the prompt as well as the child’s response. The observation questions are clearly presented.
One of the app’s best features is the information about teaching each skill that is provided in the report. For each skill, the authors have included practical ideas for improving children’s performance. There are hands-on activities to try, and many skills list other high-quality apps that focus on the skills in question. These do link directly to the app store, so children should not use the app without supervision.
One concern noted is that some interactive exercises are designed such that students can get cues about their accuracy. The puzzle completion activity, for example, provides an auditory response when pieces are placed correctly. If a child places a piece incorrectly, he or she would have time to realize the mistake and move the piece, eventually finding the correct position without really having the skill to solve the puzzles. There also is no way to stop a test when a child is having little success without losing all the data collected before that point. For example, in the Reading Readiness section, a child may be able to do well with finding the target letters, but must complete the entire subtest even if there is no success on identifying letter sounds, which is a much more difficult skill. It might be good if the assessments stopped after two or three errors, or for the app to at least have an exit button that will save partial results.
Children will enjoy using the i Am-READY app as adults explore their strengths in kindergarten readiness skills. Many activities are game-like, and require swiping or tapping movements. Youngsters will also enjoy knowing their voices are being recorded and listening to them later.
The interactive activities have reward sequences for correct responses that are varied and fun. Some are graphic and others are auditory. It should be noted, however, that many of the auditory rewards are clipped off at the end such that words are not completed. This detracts from the overall enjoyability of the app for children.
It is great to have this set of assessment tools in preschool classrooms, and parents will be able to quickly and easily find out if their children are on track for school readiness. The app will expand parents’ knowledge and help everyone keep children on track for school. This app is an outstanding value.
This app is obviously intended for supervised use only. There are no links to social media and no advertising. However, there is a link on the front page (the “Contact i Am-READY link) that contains links that open your browser and take users to the developers’ websites or emails. The reports contain links to other apps that will teach specific skills and open directly to the App Store. It would be better to protect information and links such as these in an adults-only section that restricts inadvertent access.