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Half of Kentucky’s Kindergartners Were Ready For School

The number of Kentucky children who are prepared for kindergarten is nearly unchanged over last year—half of kids entering school still don’t have the basic skills that the state deems as necessary to be “kindergarten-ready.”

The Kentucky Department of Education’s annual kindergarten readiness results released Wednesday show that 50 percent of children are prepared for a public education, a 1 percent increase from last year.

In Jefferson County Public Schools, 51.9 percent of children were ready for kindergarten this school year.

Last year, 52.3 percent of Jefferson County Public Schools’ kindergartners were ready—a higher rate than the state average, which was 49 percent. While that rate is still slightly higher than the state average, it’s a slight drop for JCPS.

Gov. Steve Beshear said in a news release that this “reinforces the importance of quality early learning opportunities for all children.”

An increasing number of studies emphasize the need to catch kids up quickly so they’ll have better academic achievement later in school.

It’s the second year the state has unveiled the data after piloting the kindergarten screener in school districts in previous years. The screener asks students their name and age, to recite the alphabet and count, among other tasks.

Here is a diagram of what goes into being kindergarten-ready.

Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said in the news release that, “Performing at a certain level on the screener is not a requirement for entering kindergarten.” But he said it’s used as a tool for educators to know where children are academically, and what they need.

JCPS officials said the new results show that children who participate in both the federally funded Head Start program and the state-funded pre-K program saw increases in kindergarten readiness rates.

JCPS has offered workshops to families who need help getting their children ready for kindergarten after data showed the lack of kindergarten readiness is disproportionate in some areas of the county.

In April, a JCPS official said he’d like to see the kindergarten-ready rate increase to 75 percent in the next four years.

Liz Morley, a parent of soon-to-be kindergartner Margot, said knowing how her child is doing before entering school is important to her.

“Anything that evaluates my child I want to know about it. I want to know the results,” she said.

Margot has been in preschool and her teachers tell Morley that she’s kindergarten-ready. But she also has Moreley own goals—like getting Margot reading before kindergarten starts next fall.

“There are things I can do to help,” she said, naming things like reading, taking her to museums, or the zoo.

Devin Katayama joined WFPL News in summer 2011. He adds to the newsroom a diverse perspective having lived and reported in major cities across the U.S. and spending time in Peru reporting on human trafficking. Devin earned the 2011 Studs Terkel Community Media Scholarship Award for his report on homeless youth in Chicago. He reports on education affairs in Kentucky and Indiana.