Use of item response theory to develop a measure of first-grade readiness

Thomas P. Gumpel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


This paper describes the development of a measure of readiness for first grade. The Readiness Inventory (RI), consists of six items, uses a 4-point rating scale, and has an alpha of 0.86. The RI was completed on 139 first-grade children and analyzed using a polytomous rating scale model of Item Response Theory. The instrument shows a high level of item and case fit. Based on an item map which elucidates the latent trait of school readiness as perceived by first-grade teachers, behaviors dealing with academic skills are less indicative of readiness than abilities dealing with role-governed behaviors or strategic learning behaviors. The RI was then validated through the examination of two different groups of preschool children: those who underwent an intensive school readiness preparation training (the Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters or HIPPY) and those who did not participate in any such program. Scores on the RI were significantly higher for HIPPY graduates versus non-HIPPY graduates, a breakdown by sex revealed that only HIPPY boys out-performed their non-HIPPY boy peers on the RI. This validation study suggests that the RI is able to discriminate between ready and not-ready children.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)285-293
Number of pages9
JournalPsychology in the Schools
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1999


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