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Only 50.1% of Kentucky kindergarten students are ready to start school

Nearly 64 percent qualified for free- and reduced-price meals

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 10, 2015) — Only 50.1 percent of Kentucky children who entered kindergarten during the 2015-16 school year were ready to start school, according to Kindergarten Readiness Screener data released by the Kentucky Department of Education.

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 1.36.32 PMSchool readiness is defined as “a student entering school is ready to engage in and benefit from early learning experiences that best promote the student’s success.”

One of the main reasons is poverty. Nearly 64 percent of the students entering kindergarten this year qualified for free- and reduced-price meals.

“Unfortunately, not all children have the same opportunities to develop and learn before they enter school,” Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt said. “The reality is that poverty has a big impact on education in Kentucky. It is a reality that puts children at a disadvantage when they enter school and one that we must address from day one.”

Teachers administered the BRIGANCE K Screener to 46,789 students in all 173 school districts at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year. Students are asked their name and age, 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, physical development, self-help, and social-emotional. 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.

Parents also are asked to fill out a survey about what type of setting the child was in the year before starting kindergarten. The questionnaire did 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.

In 2013-14, the first year the screener was used, only 49 percent of children were ready to begin kindergarten. Last year the number was 50 percent.