Associate Commissioner Amanda Ellis presents results of the kindergarten screener during the December meeting of the Kentucky Board of Education. Photo by Bobby Ellis, Dec. 6, 2017

Associate Commissioner Amanda Ellis presents results of the kindergarten screener during the December meeting of the Kentucky Board of Education.
Photo by Bobby Ellis, Dec. 6, 2017

FRANKFORT, Ky.) – Many Kentucky students are at a disadvantage for learning before they even start school, according to Kindergarten Readiness Screener data released by the Kentucky Department of Education.

Slightly more than half of the students entering kindergarten in 2017-18 were considered ready, the Kentucky Board of Education learned at its meeting in Frankfort Dec. 6. School readiness is defined in 704 KAR 5:070 as “a student entering school ready to engage in and benefit from early learning experiences that best promote the student’s success.”

“This data is so important for our schools and teachers,” Commissioner of Education Stephen Pruitt said. “The screener is not a test and students aren’t required to make a certain score to begin kindergarten. Rather, the screener is an evaluation that provides educators information on where a student is starting, and how the school can support the student and meet his or her individual needs as we work together to close the achievement gap by 50 percent in the next 13 years.”

The results showed a modest increase in school readiness among many groups, including low-income, African American and Hispanic students, students with limited English proficiency and students with disabilities.

Kentucky Kindergarten Readiness, by Group

GroupNumber TestedKindergarten Ready Percentage
All Students49,08946,78946,58241,98750.
White (Non-Hispanic)37,38935,53835,17031,91052.152.752.353.4
African American5,1584,8184,8554,04746.344.546.947.9
American Indian/Alaska Native5555724745.550.952.842.6
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander5161586049.031.148.345
Two or more races2,2102,1502,2032,12951.050.950.549.8
Limited English Proficiency2,8862,7882,9512,57128.726.026.930.1
Free/Reduced-Price Meals31,60029,84029,80525,45539.439.739.841.3
Students with Disabilities7,0346,0765,5425,35927.631.129.732.1

Studies show that children who attend high quality early learning environments have better math, language and social skills. Additionally, they are less likely to be retained in a grade, have a lower likelihood of being chronically absent in their primary and secondary school years, and they are more likely to graduate from high school.

Kentucky is focused on improving the quality of early care and education programs and increasing educational outcomes and success for all preschoolers. One way it is doing that is through the Kentucky All STARS program, a five-star quality rating and improvement system that serves all early care and education programs that receive public funding, including child care centers, Head Start and public preschool. Kentucky All STARS is based on Kentucky’s Early Childhood Standards and research-based indicators of quality, and recognizes programs that have made a commitment to continuous quality improvement.

This is the fifth year that the Kentucky Readiness Screener has been given statewide to all incoming kindergarten students.

Teachers administered the BRIGANCE K Screener to 41,987 students in all 173 school districts at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year. The number of students screened this year is smaller than previous years due to the state changing the cutoff date for kindergarten enrollment from Oct. 1 to Aug. 1.

Students are asked their name and age, to stand on one foot for ten seconds, to recite the alphabet and count to 30, among other tasks. The screener provides a snapshot of student readiness in the following domains: academic/cognitive, language development and physical development. Performing at a certain level is not a requirement to enter kindergarten.

As part of the screener, parents also fill out a survey on their child’s ability to help him or herself and social-emotional development, though this information is not factored into readiness scores. Results for social-emotional development are reported separately.

Parents also are asked to fill out a survey about what type of setting the child was in the year before kindergarten. The questionnaire does not distinguish whether the program was a half-day or full-day program, or the duration a child spent in a particular setting. Students can be included in multiple prior settings.

The settings include:

  • State-Funded Preschool – State-funded preschool serves 3- and 4-year-old children. Three-year-old children qualify based on developmental delay; 4-year-old children qualify based on developmental delay or family income.
  • Head Start – Federally-funded program serving 3- and 4-year-old children. Children qualify based on developmental delay and family income.
  • Child care – Privately owned, licensed child care facilities and certified homes; usually private pay and subsidized.
  • Home – Home with parent or guardian.
  • Other – Non-licensed child care facilities, baby sitters, kin care.
  • Unknown – No data gathered from families.

The results did show consistent growth for students enrolled in state-funded preschool programs.

Kentucky Kindergarten Readiness, by Prior Setting

Prior SettingNumber TestedKindergarten Ready Percentage
State Funded Preschool17,39616,55916,33914,79147.448.149.550.3
Head Start6,6156,6036,9426,04144.545.848.047.0
Child Care10,65210,67310,9949,42769.970.169.769.9

Resources to support quality leaning experiences are available for parents and for early care and education providers on the Kentucky Department of Education and the Governor’s Office for Early Childhood.

To learn more about kindergarten readiness or to review an early childhood data profile in your area, visit the Governor’s Office for Early Childhood website