Report: Md. Kindergartners are Entering School Better Prepared

BALTIMORE (March 24, 2009) - Children entering kindergarten in Maryland continue to improve their preparation for the rigors of the classroom, according to a new report by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE).

"Children Entering School Ready to Learn-School Readiness Information for School Year 2008-2009," a report by MSDE's Division of Early Childhood Development, revealed steady progress in all demographic subgroups. Maryland students entering kindergarten fully prepared for learning increased by 5 percent from 2008 to 2009, up to 73 percent. That is up 24 percentage points since the baseline year of 2001.

"All young children have the potential to be active learners, and a great start before they enter the kindergarten classroom sets the stage," said Nancy S. Grasmick, State Superintendent of Schools. "This has been a high priority for parents and the Maryland State Department of Education. We are pleased with the progress taking place."

The annual MSDE study reflects assessment information on kindergartners' readiness levels in social and personal areas, language and literacy, mathematical thinking, scientific thinking, social studies, the arts, physical development, and health.

Kindergarten readiness has improved significantly since all early care programs were brought under MSDE in 2005. Since the Division of Early Childhood Development was established, the number of accredited childcare programs has grown significantly and MSDE has established several quality initiatives to improve the early learning opportunities for all children.

Also significant has been the reduction in the achievement gap between students of different ethnicities. For example, African American children have made dramatic strides since the initial report in 2001, rising 32 percentage points overall and narrowing the gap with their with peers from 19 points in 2001 to 9 points in 2009.

The MSDE study found improvement across demographic categories in the percentage of student ready for kindergarten work. For example:

-- School readiness levels for English Language Learners have increased 25 points since 2001, including a 22 point increase in the Language and Literacy domain.

-- The improvement in school readiness for low-income children-students receiving free or reduced price meals-was has jumped 31 percentage points since 2001.

-- The percent of special education students deemed fully ready for kindergarten remained improved 17 points since 2001 to 47 percent.

The study results continue to highlight the importance of high-quality early learning opportunities. Children who spent time in early-care settings started school better prepared for learning that those who remained at home or in the homes of relatives, the research found. Children enrolled in public school pre-K programs (75 percent fully ready for kindergarten), child care centers (77 percent), and non-public nursery schools (86 percent) the year prior to kindergarten exhibited stronger school readiness levels than those who were at home or in informal care settings the year prior to kindergarten.

Maryland's annual school readiness report is the result of legislative action to gauge the progress on school readiness skills of incoming kindergartners. Each year, more than 2,000 kindergarten teachers use an age-appropriate portfolio-based assessment to evaluate their students' performance on 30 indicators of learning in their classrooms during the first eight weeks of school. The assessment information in the report reflects scores for each of the seven domains of learning, such as literacy, math, and social skills, as well as the composite score of all domains.

The complete School Readiness report will be available soon on the special MSDE website, .

Source: Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE)

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