Kindergarten Readiness Screener pilot shows mixed results

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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 this week 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 five 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.

 

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