Study shows that most kindergarteners meet state standards

March 04, 2002|BY TARA REILLY

Washington County children are more prepared for kindergarten than those across the state, according to a study by the Maryland State Department of Education.

Fifty-eight percent of Washington County's students, ages 4 and 5, who entered kindergarten were fully ready, compared to the 49 percent state average, according to the Children Entering Kindergarten Ready to Learn study.

A child who is fully ready demonstrates behavior and skills needed to meet kindergarten expectations, such as following classroom rules and routines, speaking clearly and conveying ideas in conversations and classroom discussions, and understanding the concept of numbers and quantities.

Valerie Kaufmann, a resource teacher for the Washington County Board of Education, said the county's students have several pre-kindergarten programs available, which help prepare them for kindergarten. Those programs include Head Start, private day care programs and the School Board's pre-kindergarten service, called the Extended Elementary Education Program.


"If they have been in Head Start or EEEP, they have had more academic experiences," Kaufmann said.

The study was based on the results of observations of all kindergarten students throughout the state by their teachers. The observations were conducted from the beginning of this school year through November.

All of the approximately 1,450 Washington County kindergarten students were observed.

Teachers filled out forms on how ready they thought children were based on seven areas: personal and social development, language and literacy, mathematical thinking, scientific thinking, social studies, the arts and physical development.

Washington County kindergartners were more fully-prepared than students throughout the state in all areas, according to the report.

The county's students received the highest mark in physical development with 75 percent being fully ready, which includes abilities such as running, jumping, hopping and climbing, Kaufmann said.

Sixty percent of students throughout the state were fully ready in the physical development area.

Kaufmann said it's natural for a kindergarten student to have more abilities in the physical development category because they don't yet have much experience in the other areas, such as scientific thinking or social studies.

The report also states that:

- 65 percent of the county's students were fully ready in the personal/social development category, compared to the state's 55 percent average.

- 64 percent were fully ready in the arts, compared to 51 percent in the state.

- 49 percent were fully ready in mathematical thinking, compared to 40 percent in the state.

- 43 percent were fully ready in social studies, compared to 32 percent in the state.

- 41 percent were fully ready in language and literacy, compared to 36 percent in the state.

- 35 percent were fully ready in scientific thinking, compared to 24 percent in the state.

Students who weren't fully ready were considered either "approaching readiness" or "developing readiness."

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.

Developing readiness means students did not demonstrate behavior, skills and abilities needed to meet kindergarten expectations and require considerable support, the study states.

Thirty-four percent of the county's students were approaching readiness, lower than the state average of 44 percent. Nine percent of the county's students fell into the developing readiness category, compared to the 7 percent state average.

State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick said the report is a positive sign for Maryland's public schools but more needs to be done.

"We are still not where we are in terms of school readiness, but we are putting considerable attention in this area," Grasmick said in a written statement. "I know that the early childhood community is starting to focus on the major goal for our youngest children - preparing children for school success."

The state has endorsed the creation of all-day kindergarten in all Maryland schools and has set up the Judith P. Hoyer Early Care and Education Enhancement Program, which focuses on early education achievement.

The Herald-Mail Articles