Kindergarten 'readiness' doesn't mean that a child shouldn't be in school

Half of Ohio and Ky. students pass readiness exam

CINCINNATI -- Most of the class of 2028 just finished their first slew of assessments -- although they may have no idea that they've even been assessed.

Kindergartners in Ohio and Kentucky, while adjusting to their school setting, have also been taken part in integral "kindergarten readiness" assessments, spanning over the past few months.

While it may seem a little late to determine readiness, statistically, around half of the Tri-State's kindergartners will meet the standards of Ohio's Kindergarten Readiness Assessment and Kentucky's Brigance Screener.

But that's okay, said Toby Lichtle, assistant director of communications and outreach for the Ohio Department of Education. No child will be asked to leave school or deemed inadequate for school because of their test result.

“The kindergarten readiness assessment doesn’t say they have to do x, y and z to enter kindergarten,” Lichtle said. “We want them to come,” he added. “We don’t want a kid taking a year off and getting further behind.”

Kindergarten readiness might more accurately be described as preparedness for school curriculum, he said.

“All kids arrive at school with some level of readiness,” said Kentucky Department of Education representative Bill Buchanan.

Rather than preventing students from beginning their formal education, the assessment acts as a guide, directing teachers to the areas where students need additional support.

“The assessment is there to help the teacher identify what they need to be working on with the student in order to get them ready for first grade,” Lichtle said.

In Ohio, the six components addressed by the assessment include social skills, mathematics, science, social studies, language and literacy, and physical well-being and motor development.

Kentucky educators focus on five areas, which include approaches to learning, social and emotional, language and communication, health and well-being and cognitive development.

“Skills in these areas are some of the best predictors for success in school and in life,” Buchanan said.

Teachers assess students through everyday learning activities though observation in the classroom and at recess, asking them questions and requesting them to complete specific tasks.

Incoming kindergartners are entering school better-prepared than in the past, according to past assessment results.

Under Ohio’s previous standards, from the 2005-06 to 2013-14 school year, about 40 percent of students entered school ready for the kindergarten curriculum, a ten percent decrease from the state's latest results.

In Kentucky, 50 percent of kindergartners were ready to enter school during the 2014-15 school year – up 1 percent from the previous year.

While teachers do offer support for students who need additional help with pre-kindergarten standards, parents can assist their children before they even start kindergarten. The Ohio Department of Education provides resources on its website for parents who need some guidance in preparing their kids for school.

“There’s a variety of different resources and materials on our website to help parents know where they need to be,” Lichtle said.

Literacy is one big piece of the picture in Ohio.

“We’re doing a lot in the state to promote literacy,” Lichtle said.

Similarly, in Kentucky, parents are encouraged to focus on literacy by reading to their children.

“I think one of the most important things a parent can do is read to their child every day,” Buchanan said.

The biggest way parents can help their kids, though, is simply being active and engaged in their children’s lives, Buchanan said.

“That’s what a parent can do to really ensure that their child is ready for school,” he said.

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