Tests show more Kentucky children need academic help to succeed

jwarren@herald-leader.comMarch 12, 2013 

Teacher Anna Sirmon guided her students last year at Dixie Elementary Magnet School. Dixie has an ungraded primary, which means all students in kindergarten through third grade are considered to be in the same grade.

HERALD-LEADER FILE PHOTO

Most Kentucky children entering kindergarten need academic help in order to succeed, according to test results released Tuesday.

"These results clearly show many of our students are starting school at a disadvantage, often without the basic foundation on which to build academically," Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said in a statement.

"It is critical that young children are exposed to high quality learning environments and developmentally appropriate experiences at home and in early childhood education settings to promote success."

The report was based on results from a test given at the beginning of this school year to more than 31,000 kindergarten students in 458 Kentucky public schools. The test, designed to assess children's basic skills and academic readiness, was administered on a voluntary basis.

Test results showed that about 72 percent of participating students needed academic support to be ready for success in kindergarten.

Overall, slightly more than 28 percent of the incoming kindergartners were ready to succeed without additional help. Of those, 9.3 percent were deemed to need enrichment, such as more challenging classroom work, to maintain their readiness.

Kindergartners also were asked questions to gauge their general knowledge, physical well-being and other factors. Results showed that about 59 percent of students were average or above average in cognitive and general knowledge; nearly 40 percent were average or above average in language and communications; and 49.5 percent were average or above average in physical well-being.

Parents were asked to complete questionnaires about their kindergartners' growth and development, such as whether they could use eating utensils or brush their own teeth. More than 79 percent of the children were average or above average in social and emotional development, and almost 71 percent had average or above average self-help skills, officials said.

Kentucky will start administering a kindergarten readiness test statewide next school year. Educators will use results to address individual students' needs and improve K-3 programs.

About 50,000 children enter kindergarten in Kentucky's public schools every year.

Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255.

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