- According to the first Illinois snapshot of kindergarten readiness called the Kindergarten Individual Development Survey, only 24% of students measured statewide were fully prepared to enter kindergarten, the State Journal-Register reports.
- The findings, which are based on teacher observations of students’ skills and behaviors in three areas of child development during the first 40 days of the school year, also reveal that 42% of students statewide are not prepared in any developmental category at all.
- The survey, which only included 81% of kindergarten students in the state, revealed that poverty was the biggest indicator of student readiness, with only 16% of students receiving free-and-reduced lunch being fully prepared compared to 30% of wealthier students.
According to the Education Commission of the States, some states have differing definitions of kindergarten readiness while other states have no definition at all. States also vary in how they use these definitions or standards. However, multiple research studies indicate the impact of kindergarten readiness.
According to a report by Child Trends, children entering school with basic math and reading skills have a higher likelihood of academic success in later grades and of attaining a postsecondary education and secure employment. “Absence of these and other skills may contribute to even greater disparities down the road. For example, one study found that gaps in math, reading, and vocabulary skills evident at elementary school entry explained at least half of the racial gap in high school achievement scores,” the report said.
The report also points to some interesting racial trends in this area. For instance, Hispanic children are less likely than their white or black peers to be able to recognize the letters of the alphabet, count to 20, or write their name before entering kindergarten. Black and white children are similar on these measures, but black children are more likely to be reading words in books, according to the report.
There are lists available of what students need to know before entering kindergarten, and administrators can work within communities to encourage parents to make sure students can accomplish as many of these tasks as possible. Some schools are finding success in the institution of transitional kindergarten programs, and while many of these skills are taught in preschool programs, those without access can also explore online programs or self-teach them at home.