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Kindergarten readiness studied

March 22, 2001

Kindergarten readiness studied



By TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

The number of children who were fully ready for kindergarten in Washington County this school year was higher than the state average, according to a study by the Maryland State Department of Education.

Fifty-five percent of Washington County students, aged 4 and 5, who entered kindergarten were fully ready, as opposed to the state average of 40 percent, the report stated.

A child who is fully ready demonstrates behavior and skills needed to meet kindergarten expectations, said Paula Athey, the school system's supervisor of early childhood program.

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The information was released in the Maryland State Department of Education's study called "Children Entering School Ready to Learn." The state study was requested by the Maryland General Assembly's Joint Committee on Children, Youth and Families.

Washington County averaged lower than the state in the number of children "approaching readiness" with 35 percent, while the state average was 50 percent.

Approaching readiness means the child inconsistently demonstrated skills, behaviors and abilities needed to meet kindergarten expectations and require targeted support, according to the Department of Education.

Ten percent of county children were developing readiness for kindergarten, while the average was 9.6 percent for the state.

Children who are developing readiness means they did not demonstrate behavior, skills and abilities needed to meet kindergarten expectations and require considerable support, the study states.

"It's encouraging news, but it still shows us we still have work to do," Athey said.

The study was based upon readiness information from more than 1,300 teachers in the state. About 23,000 kindergarten students statewide, including 439 from the 1,358 enrolled in Washington County, were assessed between Nov. 3-10 in seven areas: personal/social development, language and literacy, mathematical thinking, scientific thinking, social studies, arts and physical development.

Washington County averaged higher than the state in all seven categories.

Athey said all the students in kindergarten would be assessed next year.

"We finally will have information about how many children enter Maryland schools unprepared, and this sampling will point us to areas that need the most overall attention," said State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick in a release. "This will enable us to target and address these needs immediately and make the necessary inroads so students are at satisfactory learning levels in the earliest years of schooling."

"While our scores are higher than the state average, we still have areas of need," Athey said. "I would like to see more early childhood programs through the Board of Education in our public schools."

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