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Advocates Support Uniform Kindergarten Screening in Kentucky

As Kentucky prepares to implement a common kindergarten screening process in many of its public schools, education advocates are touting the benefits of such a system.

Many Kentucky public schools do screen children for kindergarten readiness, but the absence of a uniform screening process has meant that districts may not be collecting the same kinds of information and therefore aren't able to share common data, especially about children who may move, advocates say.

"A common screener, used statewide, will provide important information to evaluate and continuously improve our public investment in early-childhood programs, and it will provide 'portable' information about children who often move from district to district," Polly Lusk Page, the executive director of the Northern Kentucky Education Council, and Kentucky Board of Education member Brigitte Blom Ramsey wrote last week in an opinion piece on cincinnati.com

State education officials have been developing a common kindergarten readiness screener with best-practice guidelines through a collaboration with the Governor's Office of Early Childhood and the Kentucky Department of Education. Creating a common process was one of the recommendations of the Governor's Task Force on Early Childhood Development.

Known as the Common Kindergarten Entry Screener, the process will be implemented next fall in 107 volunteer districts, according to the Kentucky Department of Education. The screener, aligned with the state's school readiness definition and early-childhood standards, will assess children's development in these five areas: adaptive, cognitive, motor, communication, and social-emotional.

Jessamine County Schools Superintendent Lu Young wrote in the Central Kentucky News in August that her district has had "a great deal of success" with a screening program used at its Jessamine Early Learning Village, which serves all county kindergartners.

"Based on these successes, we believe that it is time for all school districts in Kentucky to follow us in this best practice," Young wrote, noting that the Learning Village was expected to pilot the new screener this fall.

Page and Ramsey pointed out that the purpose of the common screener isn't to exclude kids from school, but to make sure they receive the "most comprehensive instruction possible" and potential learning issues are identified early.

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