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Tuesday, 20th July 2010

Few States Track Children’s Readiness For School

Few States Track Children’s Readiness For School
Source: New America Foundation

Years of research point to the importance of developing the skills that children need to succeed in school and identifying the kindergartners who could have benefited from more learning opportunities before arriving. This is what kindergarten readiness assessments are all about. And yet while states have heeded the call to begin developing practices that support readiness, only a few are actually tracking readiness based on established statewide expectations.
According to a recent Child Trends brief, A Review of School Readiness Practices in the States: Early Learning Guidelines and Assessments, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have developed Early Learning Guidelines (ELGs) for children aged 3 to 5 that define what they should know and be able to do when they enter kindergarten.

But most early childhood education providers are not required to use them—they are voluntary for non-publicly funded programs. How can states encourage more adoption?

This is a question that the Child Trends brief attempts to answer. The result is a much-needed and helpful overview of state practice. It shows, for example, that only seven states administer a formal “school readiness assessment” to new kindergartners to track how many are, in fact, “ready” for kindergarten. Instead most states encourage the use of these tools to inform instruction and guide conversations about skills and abilities with parents, which is smart practice, but it would also be beneficial to use them to determine whether the skills and abilities states have identified as important are really the right ones and to gauge the effectiveness of pre-kindergarten programs in preparing children to transition into kindergarten.

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