42 percent of kindergartners ‘fully ready’ for school
Charles results hew closely to state
Charles County kindergartners ranked slightly behind the state average in terms of readiness for school, according to the results of the 2015-16 Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA).
The Maryland State Department of Education released the results of the KRA last week.
The test was administered last fall to all entering kindergarten students at the start of the 2015-16 school year. Composite results for each county are ranked in three categories: fully ready, approaching readiness and emerging readiness.
In Charles County, 42 percent of new kindergarten students were rated “fully ready,” compared with 45 percent for the state and 47 percent for Charles County in the 2014-15 school year, the first time the KRA was administered.
However, only 16 percent of Charles County kindergartners were found to have “emerging readiness” this year, the lowest category, compared with 18 percent for the state.
The biggest demographic caps were found amongst special populations — students identified as special education (18 percent), English language learners (20 percent) and free and reduced meals students (35 percent). State results were within 1 or 2 percentage points of the county.
Amongst race and ethnicity groups, hispanic students had the biggest readiness gap, with only 26 percent rated “fully ready,” only a percentage point lower than the state average for hispanic
“It’s very close [to the Maryland results] in all the ways we look at it,” said Mary Kate Long, a specialist in early childhood education for Charles County Public Schools. “We mirrored the state very closely last year as well.”
In the KRA, students are rated as either “ready” or “not yet ready” for kindergarten work in four categories: Language and literacy, mathematics, social foundations and physical development.
Charles County scores in the latter three remained within a few percentage points of last year’s results, but language and literacy dropped from 50 percent ready in 2014-15 to 41 percent in 2015-16.
Children who came into kindergarten from pre-kindergarten also fared better (43 percent) than students who were coming to kindergarten from home care (31 percent) or family care (30 percent).
“It did show that our pre-k program did narrow the gap between populations, but I would like it to be a lot better,” Long said, adding that the information would be used to develop professional training for pre-kindergarten teachers. “We’re going to focus on language and literacy, because that’s where the drop was.”
Long said that individual classroom data would also be available to teachers so that they could use it to adjust instruction.
The KRA is only in its sec- ond year, and yet it has already generated controversy. The test was administered at the start of the school year to all kindergarten students, much of it one-on-one between the teacher and the student.
“It was stressing students, and it was frustrating teachers to be administering this test at the beginning of the school year when they’re supposed to be developing a relationship with their students,” said Linda McLaughlin, president of the Education Association of Charles County, the local teachers’ union. “It’s harming our youngest learners, and how can you instill a love of learning in your students when you start off by putting them through the pressure of testing?”
The KRA became a part of the General Assembly’s discussion on testing this ses- sion, and last week, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) signed into law a bill that will allow the KRA to be administered to a “representative sample” of students.
“We’re really happy that it was made into a sampling test, and we will be speaking with the superintendent and the board of education to keep it as a representative sampling test,” McLaughlin said, adding that jurisdictions still have the option of administering the test to all students.
State education spokesman Bill Reinhard said Tues- day that MSDE is currently working on determining how and to whom the test will be administered in the 2016-17 school year.
“Certainly, we expect to have those details finalized by early summer,” Reinhard said.