Good news? More Maryland kindergarteners are ready for school. Bad news? It’s not nearly enough

About 42% of kindergarteners across Maryland are considered academically ready for the classroom this year. That’s an improvement on the state Kindergarten Readiness Assessment when only 40% were academically prepared last year, Maryland State Board of Education data shows.

But not nearly enough children are academically prepared for those statistics to be considered successful. Officials discussed the data during the Maryland State Board of Education meeting on Tuesday.

It’s an even more dire situation for the youngest students in Baltimore City, where 33% of kindergarteners are ready for school. About 39% demonstrated readiness in Baltimore County.

The assessment measures the knowledge, behavior, and skills of incoming kindergarteners and all students statewide are assessed. Teachers observe their students during school work and play between the first day of school in late August through Oct. 10.

Kindergarten Readiness Assessment

Maryland State Board of Education

Kindergarten Readiness Assessment

State Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury, who oversees all the local school districts, said while there was an improvement, scores had not returned to the pre-pandemic level.

Before the pandemic about 47% of students demonstrated readiness across Maryland schools. Choudhury said the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, will require collaboration between preschools and local school systems.

“One of the things that the Blueprint is going to start doing is that the providers, whether it’s private or public, and the school system need to work together and they need to vertically articulate beyond just kindergarten transition activities,” Choudhury said.

Only 10% of English Language Learners, which means students whose first language is not English, were considered ready for kindergarten, state data shows. About 17% of students with disabilities were academically ready.

Those percentages have not been budgeted in the past year.

“Unless we do something for those babies, we’re not going to get differences when it comes to schools,” said Joan Mele-McCarthy, State Board of Education Member and Executive Director of The Summit School.

The Maryland State Board of Education is revamping its kindergarten assessment program, coined as KRA 3.0 in collaboration with the nonprofit organizations Center for Measurement Justice and WestEd. Students will be assessed using the new guidelines in Fall 2024. Spanish language speakers will have the opportunity to be assessed in their native language.

In addition to focusing on school readiness, Choudhury said it’s important to pay attention to the academic trajectory of the kindergarten students because there is often a decline in proficiency throughout the years.

“It’s one thing to be ready at kindergarten, it’s another thing to hold it steady, all the way up to there at the end of third grade. So we really need to think about it as an entire system,” he said.

School districts prepare for full-day kindergarten as Cox signs bill into law | News, Sports, Jobs

James Roh, Daily Herald file photo

Kindergarten students listen to Megan Prawitt read to her class at Hobble Creek Learning Center in Springville on Friday, Feb. 1, 2013.

Utah County school districts are looking forward to new opportunities presented by expanded full-day kindergarten options. Gov. Spencer Cox signed HB 477, which modifies funding for full-length kindergartens and requires districts to still have half-day options, into law on Friday.

Full-day kindergarten was accessible to 34% of kindergarteners in Utah during the 2022-2023 school year, compared to 82% across the country, according to advocacy group Utah Full Day Kindergarten Now. According to the Utah State Board of Education, there are 2,279 total kindergarten classes across the state, 641 of which are full day.

“We have followed the bill closely and have been working with our schools to identify what is needed to implement full day kindergarten in terms of staffing and space in our buildings,” said Caleb Price, Provo City School District director of communications. “While we currently are continuing that work, we already have a full day kindergarten program in some of our schools that we are able to use as a model.”

PCSD reported having 958 kindergarten students (7.04% of all students) in 13 elementary schools according to enrollment data recorded Oct. 1. The district offered six additional full-day kindergarten classes after the passage of HB 193 in 2022, the foundation for the 2023 bill.

Nebo School District is already preparing to add full-day kindergarten classes to their schools, having posted openings for approximately 30 kindergarten teachers to their job portal.

Isaac Hale, Daily Herald file photo

Isaac Smith, 6, makes a game out of stepping between colored and non-colored tiles as he and his kindergarten class walk between classrooms at American Heritage School on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019, in American Fork.

“The good news is that Nebo School District currently has room in our elementary school buildings because we finished moving our sixth grade students to a middle school model in 2021,” Lana Hiskey, Nebo School District communications and community relations administrator, told the Daily Herald . “Nebo’s registration is now open, and we hope our parents will register as soon as possible and let us know if they prefer a full-day kindergarten class or a half-day kindergarten class.”

According to them Oct. 1 enrollment data, Nebo has 2,561 kindergarten students (7.07%) in 30 elementary schools as the state’s sixth largest district. Alpine School District, meanwhile, recorded 5,738 kindergarteners (6.77%) across 60 elementary schools as the state’s largest district.

“Alpine School District appreciates the work during the legislative session to address school funding. “We look forward to opportunities for some of our kindergarten students with additional funding available for all day kindergarten,” said David Stephenson, Alpine School District’s executive director of external relations and communications.

The bill passed the Utah House 51-14 with 10 absent or not voting members. Three Utah County representatives — Brady Brammer, Kay Christofferson and Stephanie Gricius –opposed the measure. In the Senate it passed 24-3 with all opposing voters coming from Utah County officials — Jacob Anderegg, Mike Kennedy and Dan McCay.

Stefanie Plothow home schools her children Cameron, 9, in the 3rd grade, and Ainsley, 5, in kindergarten, Friday, Aug. 20, 2021, in Lehi.


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