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Majority of Kentucky Kindergarten Students Not Ready to Succeed Academically

While Kentucky students are generally socially and emotionally ready to start kindergarten, the majority are not ready to succeed academically, according to pilot data released today by the Kentucky Department of Education.

At the beginning of the 2012-13 school year, teachers administered the BRIGANCE K Screen to 31,480 kindergarten students in 458 schools across 109 districts in the state as part of a volunteer pilot. The common kindergarten screener does not determine whether a child can enroll in school but how well he or she is prepared to succeed at the time the screen is administered. Based on student responses and their age, students fell into one of three readiness categories: ready with supports, ready or ready with enrichments.

Only 28 percent of incoming kindergarten students in the pilot were ready to succeed without some additional supports.

“These results clearly show many of our students are starting school at a disadvantage, often without the basic foundation on which to build academically,” said Education Commissioner Terry Holliday. “It is critical that young children are exposed to high-quality learning environments and developmentally appropriate experiences at home and in early childhood education settings to promote success in kindergarten and throughout their school experience.”

The common kindergarten screen, as outlined in 704 KAR 5:070, provides teachers key information, early in the school year, that they can use to guide instruction in order to meet the individual needs of all students. The screener is aligned to both Kentucky’s School Readiness Definition and Kentucky’s Early Childhood Standards.

As part of the basic screen, students are asked questions such as their name, letters, numbers and colors in three domains: Cognitive/General Knowledge; Language and Communications; and Physical Well-Being.

In addition to the basic screen, parents filled out a social-emotional/self-help questionnaire, that asks about personal qualities, such as whether a child uses eating utensils, brushes his or her teeth or can use the bathroom independently. A total of 29,165 surveys were completed and returned. Kentucky students fared much better in these areas.

Combined, the screen data gives teachers a better idea of the whole child than they may otherwise have at the beginning of the school year and tells educators what they may need to focus on or supports that may need to be provided to ensure school success.

Until now, there has been no way for education officials, lawmakers and the public to get reliable, comparable data from across the state about how ready children are to start school. Each year more than 50,000 students enroll in public school kindergarten in Kentucky.

The Kentucky Department of Education and the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood encourage communities and school districts to enhance supports and resources for families, early childhood programs and communities in the areas of cognitive, language and motor development for young children, birth to 5 years old.

Statewide administration of the Kindergarten Readiness Screener will begin with the 2013-14 school year. In addition to helping teachers meet individual student needs, the data also will help schools improve their K-3 programs.

For statewide, district and school overall and disaggregated results from the 2012-13 pilot click here.

County profiles provide snapshot of early-childhood status

 For the first time, school districts can use county-specific data profiles to understand how many children in their communities are ready for kindergarten, thanks to the 2013 Early Childhood Profiles released today by the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood.

These county-by-county reports show readiness indicators like communications skills and physical well-being for children entering school.  The reports are designed to provide each county with data to assist in developing local strategies to assure that every child in their community enters kindergarten properly prepared to learn and succeed. 

“A child’s earliest years play a critical role in future achievements,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “It’s vital that we all work together to strengthen the foundation of education and development for our youngest citizens. This tool can help communities assure that every child in the Commonwealth gets the best possible start in life.”

The profiles contain results from the kindergarten screener pilot launched in 109 school districts in 2012. It also provides information about participation in publicly funded preschool, Head Start and child care. The reports include information about the quality and availability of child care and the education of the early childhood workforce.

Finally, demographic data is provided representing key indicators of possible barriers to success for young children and their families, as well as participation in public health and social service programs that can help.

“We believe that what gets measured gets done,” said Terry Tolan, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood. “It is our hope that this compilation of data will create local dialogue and inform local action to improve early childhood outcomes.”

According to Tolan, the Early Childhood Profile can help change the conversation in each community in Kentucky so that every child will enter school ready to succeed; every parent will know what their child needs to be ready for school; and every community will come together in support of their youngest children.

The Early Childhood Profile was created in partnership with the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics, the Kentucky Department of Education, the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

The 2013 Early Childhood Profiles can be accessed by clicking here.

Source: Kentucky Department of Education