Just 1 in 4 children in Ky. prepared for kindergarten

Data is from preliminary results of kindergarten readiness tests taken by 34,500 children

By Janet Cappiello Published:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Just one in four children in the state is prepared for kindergarten, according to preliminary data presented to the Kentucky Board of Education on Tuesday.

"That's big, guys," education commissioner Terry Holliday said during a meeting in Frankfort broadcast on the Web. "What we're telling you is that only about a quarter of the students coming to kindergarten are ready for kindergarten."

The preliminary data is showing that 24 percent to 28 percent of children are considered prepared for kindergarten, said Karen Dodd, director of strategic planning for the education department.

The data is from preliminary results of kindergarten readiness tests taken by 34,500 children in more than 100 school districts, officials said. Next year, all 174 districts will be required to use the assessments, developed with a company called Brigance.

Holliday told the board he was alarmed by those results when he first saw them, but he is confident there will be swift improvement, partially because he expects the numbers to go up when all school districts use the tests next year.

He said between 50,000 and 55,000 kindergartners enroll in public schools in Kentucky every year.

Responding to a question from the board, associate commissioner Felicia Smith said only 30 to 40 districts in Kentucky offer universal preschool.

Board member Brigitte B. Ramsey said the state needs to look at better ways to involve communities in early childhood education.

Holliday pointed to kindergarten readiness as key to determining a student's future, saying that children must be reading at grade level by third grade.

"If we don't have them reading by the end of third grade, their odds of being able to graduate from high school are greatly diminished," he said.

By knowing whether children are ready when they enter kindergarten, schools can then track each of them individually, he said.

"This is what's going to make the difference 12 years from now. Right here," Holliday said.

Also at the meeting, officials said results of the state's new K-PREP assessments will likely be delayed until Oct. 30 or Oct. 31, and possibly into November.

Associate commissioner Ken Draut told the board that compiling and double-checking the results is taking longer than usual because this is the first year of the new assessment system. Students took the tests in the spring.

Draut said next year's timetable calls for scores to be released in September.

Officials had originally said the K-PREP scores would be released sometime in late October. The state Department of Education has been telling school districts and members of the public for months to expect the scores from the new tests to be lower than the scores have been for the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System, or CATS, especially in math and reading. That's because the K-PREP tests are based on new benchmarks.

The department says parents will receive their children's scores about two weeks after the public release.

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  • to Marketing_Director: Here's the thing, the family life you mentioned no longer exists in this "modern" time. Yes, there are a few parents who can afford to have a stay-at-home lifestyle, yet there are more that don't have that ability. Out of the few who can be a stay-at-home parent, fewer than these actually spend valuable time with their kids. Instead of going outside and exploring this great new world with their kids, they are either watching soap operas, talk tv, getting boozed up or drugged up, putting the kids in front of the "boob-tube" while they themselves surf the web. Even pediatricians will state certain areas of child development that a healthy child should reach by certain ages, and those stages are not being met by poorly nurtured children. It is commonly called "failure to thrive". This has become the normal state of things now instead of the rare. Simple parental attention and interaction would put these children on the road of learning, not just in the school educational system, the the life educational system as well. Children learn to assess situations at an early age by the responses they get from their environment, including parents, pets, and their own playing. Toys that require the use of the imagination, like blocks, crayons and paper, building logs, etc. can lead to the understanding of rewards and consequences. It nurtures the imagination and curiosity. A simple magnifying glass can open up the world of a kid to the wonders of nature and what happens in that nature. Education is much, much more than numbers, letters, reading and writing. Daycare centers can't take the place of one-on-one interaction with a child who is in the beginning of discovery, there are simply too many children in their care to make it feasible. First grade is not the third grade, but it is needed to be more advanced to help make up the short-comings of education that should have began at the home. It is a sad but realistic truth. With the modern age of man, the technology, lack of family and moral values, the education of our children has suffered. There has to be a way to help these kids "catch up" so they can be successful adults with the ability to think independently, make informed decisions, "roll with life's punches" and be able to live independent lives in a society.

  • "Prepared for Kindergarten"? I am always confused and at times angered by this continual "drive" to force children to be more than children at earlier and earlier ages. Kindergarten was designed for children to become sociable with other children for a 1/2 a day, every other day, as an introduction to elementary school. The purpose was to "ween" them from their mothers, so it would not be such a shock to them on the first day of school. On the obverse of that, Kindergarten was also designed to give those "stay at home" mothers "time off" from the constant rigors of motherhood; to go get a manicure, grocery shopping, pay a bill, etc, etc. Now your child cannot start the 1st grade unless they have attended Kindergarten; your child is "strongly suggested" to attend "Pre-K" now as well......REALLY? So the 1st grade is actually the 3rd grade? By graduation your child has spent the first 15 years of their lives now in a room, away from home, performing tasks for others, Five days a week, for Eight hours a day? That isn't education.......that is a job. You shove every subject you can (objectionable or not) into the heads of pre-pubescent, pre-adolescent, and teen age children who live on an emotional roller coaster.......earlier and earlier in their lives, and you wonder why they try to act like adults at 14 years old? 3 year old children do not need to be away from their mothers for eight hours a day, 5 days a week....they have yet to nurture that parental bond. Parents do not need to be away from their 3 year old children from eight hours a day....they have yet to grasp the responsibility of actually being a parent. When do children get to be children? Run, dig in the dirt, scrape their knees, watch a cartoon without some "message" attached to it, play a game that does not require an IPad or an internet connection? At 3 years old, 4 years old, a child needs to be catching their 1st fish, holding their first worm, chasing their dog around the yard.......not worrying about graduating from Kindergarten...if they were, maybe they wouldn't be having sex at 14 years old......with 20 year old teachers who should still be in college and making their own first mistakes instead of mentoring other children......when they are barely more than children themselves.

  • i completely agree, angeleyes. i'd just like to hear commissioner holliday make a statement like that someday, at least giving some sort of indication he has an inkling of what he's supposed to be doing. however, he continues to disappoint.

  • to 407: "Most" isn't enough. All kids need to know how to read, comprehend and gather information from texts by the time they are in third grade. Without family support and reinforcement, a lot of our kids can't do that by even the 5th grade. tafugate: I've worked with children who come from homes where both parents work, one parent, grandparents raising their grandchildren and so on. It isn't always an equal divide. Some kids in any type of home have the electronic babysitters interaction way more than they do human interaction. TV channels and video games have been used to replace one-on-one time with parents of all socioeconomic backgrounds. The most important thing for any parent, or person raising children, to do is to actually talk with the child, show them the world, teach them how to form opinions, gather information from the world around them, give them a sense of curiosity and wonder. I simply don't see that happening very much any more among our children. It seems that video games, sports leagues, tv shows and even "R" rated movies are more the norm now than actually taking the time to learn your children and show them the fascinating things around them.

  • every time i read an article mentioning education commissioner holliday, it amazes me he has absolutely no grasp of any educational issue. just off the top of my pointy head, i would think maybe the growing number of single, working parents, or both parents working homes, would be one explanation for fewer kids being prepared for kindergarten. at least he didn't suggest charter schools for toddlers.

  • Third grade-that is crazy don't most kids read by th end of first grade?