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Do States Track How Ready Kids Are for School?

Educators know that young children start school with different levels of preparedness. But are we keeping track of exactly how ready kids are when they start school in order to inform policy decisions?

New research shows that, while all states have some sort of guidelines on what children should be able to do by kindergarten, only seven states actually administer a school readiness assessment to children upon entry to kindergarten with the goal of monitoring statewide readiness.

The seven states with such assessments are: Alaska, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, and Vermont, according to "A Review of School Readiness Practices in the States," a study released this summer by Child Trends, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research center based in Washington, D.C.

More than half of states do kindergarten assessments, but most use the information just to help guide instruction or screen for developmental delays, rather than to monitor statewide readiness.

The study includes a complete list of state early learning guidelines and states' current school readiness assessment practices for children in kindergarten, and also contains policy considerations. For example, the report says assessments that consider children's physical, social, and emotional progress would be the most effective assessments to use for describing school readiness.

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