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Kindergarten-Readiness Rate Drops in Covington Schools

Covington Independent Public Schools is seeing a significant decrease in kindergarten-readiness.

That readiness is determined by the standardized Brigance test, which has been used in Kentucky since 2012. Covington has been part of that pilot project since the beginning.

Each year, in the third week of September, kindergarten students take the test and their families are interviewed. The results show the social and emotional level of a child along with academic preparedness.

Among the thirteen questions posed to students is a request to recite the alphabet without singing it, to tell the interviewer their home address, to identify different body parts, and to walk backwards.

In Covington, the rate of readiness is going backwards. 

Suzanne Thompson, director of elementary schools for Covington, said that the kindergarten readiness rate in the district dropped from 48.1 in 2017-18 to 36.2 this year. James E. Biggs Early Learning Center students' rate dropped from 52.6 to 39.3 over the same time period.

The already-low rate for kindergarten students who did not attend preschool went from 30.6 to 22.3.

Thompson said the trend is not unique in Covington, and is happening statewide.

One reason, she said, is that students in the Covington school district must have a disability or economic hardship to qualify for preschool as a 3-year old. 

CIPS now has a 13-point plan to address problems in its preschool program. Staff will now more frequently use language and protocols established in the Brigance test, and some outside funds awarded each year to the district will be used to target large motor skills such as walking backwards and standing on one foot.

The book, Getting Your Child Ready for Kindergarten, will be presented during home visits.

The district also wants to see a Brigance assessment administered in May, at the end of a preschool year, so that it can be compared to the test results in the fall.

But, the district is also hesitant to call the lower rates a trend.

"One year does not a trend make," Thompson said.

Other notes:

Superintendent Alvin Garrison announced that the Covington Schools now has its own app. Anyone who wants to download the app can search for Covington Independent Schools wherever they download apps. Garrison said it has a lot of information, and people can keep up to date on all the district news.

The district is also looking to boost its state test results. Data and Assessment Coordinator Bill Grein said there are comprehensive plans for each school and for the district as a whole. The plans have been approved by school councils and advisory teams. The plans will need to be approved by the board of education, and will then be placed online for the public to view.

Garrison said the state sets lofty goals, but Covington wants to see progress.

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor
Photo: Covington Board of Education and Superintendent Garrison (RCN)