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Press Release: New Data Finds Nearly Half Of Students Ready For Kindergarten

More Rigorous Standards Reveal Achievement Gaps

For Immediate Release                                               Contact: William Reinhard, 410-767-0486

Baltimore, MD (May 19, 2015)

Maryland’s new Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA) finds that nearly half of Maryland’s incoming students in the fall of 2014 were fully ready for learning. The data, released today in a report presented to the Maryland State Board of Education, offers a new baseline for assessing kindergarten readiness to help elevate readiness for all Maryland school children.

The report, Readiness Matters!, found that 47 percent of incoming kindergartners were fully ready to begin learning.  Another 36 percent were “approaching” readiness, while 17 percent were “emerging.”  The results uncovered gaps in readiness between certain student groups. The report provides insights into readiness and children’s experience with various forms of pre-K experience.

“Preparing our youngest learners to be successful means getting them on track—and keeping them on track—as we gauge their progress in an age-appropriate way,” said State Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery.  “As we do so, we must continue to address readiness gaps across the board, so that all students have the chance to succeed in school.”

MSDE worked with local educators to develop the KRA, and has since engaged educators, including kindergarten teachers, to strengthen the assessment process.  For example, next year’s version of the KRA will be 20 percent shorter, with some of the more time-intensive items removed. An enhanced reporting feature will be in place in 2015-16 when teachers can get on-time reports of their students’ skill levels.

MSDE has worked with school systems to improve access to technology and Wi-Fi for teachers working with the KRA, and MSDE will provide additional professional development for teachers.

More than half of White and Asian-American children are entering kindergarten ready to learn -- 57 and 53 percent, respectively.  But only 43 percent of African-American students are fully prepared for kindergarten and just 27 percent of Hispanic students are kindergarten-ready.  The data also revealed that students from low-income households, those for whom English is a second language, and students with special learning challenges.

The KRA measures the skills and behaviors that children should learn prior to entering kindergarten. It combines age-appropriate, standardized performance tasks that measure students’ specific skills, along with focused observations of children’s work and play, 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 replaces the Maryland Model for School Readiness (MMSR) assessment, in use since 2001. 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” to learn.

Readiness Gaps

The KRA reveals gaps in kindergarten readiness, including gaps among low-, middle- and upper-income households, including:

  • 36 percent of children who are eligible for free or reduced meals--the federal proxy for low-income--enter kindergarten fully prepared. 
  • 57 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:

  • Nonpublic nursery schools and childcare centers both top 50 percent in readiness.
  • Nearly 46 percent of public pre-K programs demonstrated readiness. 
  • 41 percent of children from family child care demonstrated readiness.
  • 35 percent of children from Head Start demonstrated readiness.
  • 33 percent of children who stay at home or are in informal care were found to be fully ready.

How the Data Will be Used

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.

Families can use the data to help support student learning at home.

The new KRA data can be found here.