ISBE recognizes five educators for leadership and excellence in implementing KIDS

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has recognized five educators for their leadership in implementing the Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS). ISBE named the five inaugural “KIDS MVPs” at the third annual Mastering KIDS Summit on Dec. 13 in Normal.

Kindergarten teachers use KIDS to observe and collect evidence about each child’s math, literacy, and social-emotional skills at the beginning of kindergarten in order to better support them during the year. In addition to helping students and families support kindergarten students inside and outside of the classroom, KIDS provides data on where additional resources for high-quality early learning programs are needed.

The fall 2018 KIDS report showed only 26 percent of students entered kindergarten with the math, literacy, and social-emotional learning skills expected for children at that age. Governor JB Pritzker’s fiscal year 2020 budget increased early childhood funding by $50 million to a total of $543,738,100 – the largest appropriation for early childhood in Illinois history. ISBE will make its FY 2021 budget recommendation to the Governor and General Assembly in January.

“The KIDS MVPs show what’s possible through the KIDS tool. I am so impressed with their leadership in using KIDS to transform instruction in the classroom and better support bilingual students and students with disabilities,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “The early years of a child’s life are some of the most important to lifelong success. I congratulate and deeply appreciate each of the KIDS MVPs for their work in supporting our youngest learners.”

The KIDS MVPs have embraced KIDS as a tool to better understand what kindergarten students need at their age, such as developmentally appropriate play-based instruction. The 2019 KIDS MVPs are:

  • Missy Crisci, an instructional coach in Plano School District 88 in Plano. Crisci led and supported her kindergarten team in transforming their classroom environments to be more conducive to play-based learning.
  • Melissa Davidson, a kindergarten teacher with an emphasis in special education in Morrisonville Community Unit School District 1 in Morrisonville. Davidson worked with her administrators and school board to shift the district toward developmentally appropriate, play-based practices, while opening her classrooms to observation for others to learn.
  • Julie Frank, a kindergarten teacher in Bethalto Community Unit School District 8 in Bethalto. Frank created and shared developmentally appropriate activities aligned to grade level standards and presented to faculty and staff.
  • Michelle Lewis, a bilingual kindergarten teacher in West Chicago Elementary School District 33 in West Chicago. Lewis used KIDS data to inform child-centered instruction and provided insights on KIDS implantation in dual language contexts.
  • Laurel Mateyka, a principal in Plano School District 88 in Plano. Laurel used the KIDS Parent Report to share information with parents and guardians during parent-teacher conferences and used KIDS to bridge the gaps between pre-k, kindergarten, and first grade.

The Mastering KIDS Summit brought together 350 educators on Dec. 13 to share best practices in using the KIDS tool and in transitioning to play-based learning. Each KIDS MVP received a $100 DonorsChoose gift card.

Kindergarten teachers completed the third statewide implementation of KIDS this past fall. ISBE will release the fall 2019 data in spring 2020. Learn more about KIDS at