The state of Kentucky has released data that suggests 50% of kindergartners in the state did not enter the 2014-15 school year prepared to learn.
A statewide readiness screening performed by teachers in 173 school districts found that 50% of the 49,089 students who entered kindergarten in 2014 were "not ready." The number is an improvement over last year when 51% of kindergarteners were considered unprepared, writes Allison Ross for The Courier-Journal.
"While we are moving in the right direction, this data reinforces the importance of quality early learning opportunities for all children," Governor Steve Beshear said in a prepared statement.
Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said that a number of research studies have continually shown that the ability to read and comprehend textual information by the end of elementary school is a key indicator of future educational success, including college readiness.
"Performing at a certain level on the screener is not a requirement for entering kindergarten," Holliday said in the news release. "Rather, it gives our teachers a tool, so they can meet children where they are instructionally and provides a way to determine when interventions may need to begin early to ensure students get on track and stay on track for success."
The assessment, called BRIGANCE, gives teachers an insight into their students' capabilities early on in the year, allowing them the opportunity to structure their instruction to meet the individual needs of each child.
Students are asked their name and age in addition to the alphabet and counting to 30. Their answers are used to produce scores in five areas: physical well-being, language, cognitive skills, self-help and social-emotional skills.
Parents are also asked to fill out a survey concerning the type of program their child had been enrolled in prior to entering kindergarten.
Officials believe that parents, childcare providers and daycares need to work together with community partners in order to offer all the developmental experiences that will provide children with the growth and learning they need to enter kindergarten prepared and ready to learn.
The work to expand on the early childhood education program has already begun in Jefferson County, where 52% of kindergartners were considered ready last year. The district-run early childhood programs currently enroll about 4,000 students. The district recently purchased the Presbyterian Community Center in Smoketown for $1.5 million for use as early childhood classrooms. Early childhood wings will also be opened at several elementary schools in the district, writes Antoinette Konz for WDRB.
Despite this, the district is in danger of losing $14 million of its Head Start grant money due to a deficiency uncovered in its management of the federal preschool program.