Half of Maryland students not fully ready for kindergarten

Kindergarten classLess than half the students entering kindergarten in 2015 were fully ready, according to Maryland's new Kindergarten Readiness Assessment, the results of which were released today in a report presented to the Maryland State Board of Education.

The data confirm last year’s results, when the entering kindergarteners were assessed using the new assessment for the first time, according to a press release from the Maryland State Department of Education.

The report, Readiness Matters! found that 45 percent of incoming students were fully prepared to begin kindergarten. Another 37 percent were “approaching” readiness, while 18 percent were “emerging.” The results also uncovered gaps in readiness between certain student groups. The report also includes insights into readiness and children’s experience with various forms of pre-K experience, according to a release from the State Department of Education. The results nearly mirror the outcomes from last year when 47 percent were fully ready.

County school system results

  • The report also included local school system results:
  • In Anne Arundel County — 46 percent of students demonstrated readiness, 38 percent were approaching readiness and 17 percent were emerging.
  • In Calvert County — 46 percent demonstrated readiness, 40 percent were approaching and 14 percent were emerging.
  • In Howard County — 54 percent demonstrated readiness, 34 percent were approaching and 12 percent were emerging.
  • In Prince George's County — 38 percent demonstrated readiness, 40 percent were approaching and 22 percent were emerging.
  • In Queen Anne's County — 51 percent demonstrated readiness, 37 percent were approaching and 12 were emerging.

Gaps in readiness

The statewide results also spotlight gaps in readiness. More than half of White and Asian-American children are entering kindergarten ready to learn — 56 and 52 percent, respectively. But only 41 percent of African-American students are fully prepared for kindergarten and just 27 percent of Hispanic students are kindergarten-ready. The data revealed that students from low-income households, those for whom English is a second language, and students with disabilities have special challenges.

The KRA also reveals gaps among low-, middle- and upper-income households. Just 33 percent of children who are eligible for free or reduced meals — the federal proxy for low-income — enter kindergarten fully prepared, while 55 percent of children from middle- and upper income families are ready for kindergarten.

The data also provide information on kindergarten readiness based on pre-K experience, including:

  • More than 50 percent of nonpublic nursery schools and childcare centers demonstrated readiness.
  • Nearly 44 percent of public pre-K programs demonstrated readiness.
  • 37 percent of children from family child care demonstrated readiness.
  • 33 percent of children from Head Start demonstrated readiness.
  • 29 percent of children who stay at home or are in informal care were found to be fully ready.

Click next below for what the assessment measures

What the assessment measures

The KRA measures the skills and behaviors that children should have learned prior to entering kindergarten. It combines age-appropriate tasks that measure students’ specific skills, along with focused observations of children’s work and social interactions, to best understand what each entering kindergartner knows and is able to do in four key areas: social foundations; physical well-being and motor development; language and literacy; and mathematics.

This assessment replaced the Maryland Model for School Readiness (MMSR) assessment, in use from 2001 to 2013. The new assessment is needed to put young students on a path toward meeting Maryland’s more rigorous Pre-K through 12th grade College and Career Ready Standards. The KRA sets a new baseline for tracking student progress in future years, aligned to the higher standards. The results are not directly comparable to the MMSR, which found in 2013 that 83 percent of kindergartners entering school in 2013 were “fully ready” for the curriculum.

Teachers can use student KRA data to adjust instruction and improve learning. Early childhood programs and school leaders can use the information to address achievement gaps and respond to the learning needs of certain groups of students. The data also can be used to inform professional development, curricular changes, and future investments in learning. At the same time, families can use the data to help support student learning at home.

Click here for the full report on the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment.