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Only Half of Ky. Children Ready for Kindergarten, Study Says

Only half of Kentucky kindergartners were prepared for their first year of public school this fall, a state report has found, but the new exam that's detected deficiencies should aid teachers in knowing how to help.

Some 26,000 children were not ready for kindergarten when school opened--about 49 percent of the state's population, Gov. Steve Beshear said Jan. 30.

"From day one, these students may be at a disadvantage: They are behind and some lack the foundational skills on which to build," the Democrat said in a statement. "Too often, they don't catch up with their peers. As a result, these students may face years of poor grades and negative school experiences that usually only end when they drop out or graduate from high school unprepared for college or career."

Students were asked to identify their names, ages, the letters of the alphabet and were required to try to count to 30 among other questions as part of the new BRIGANCE K Screener test, a statement from the governor's office said.

The exam, given at the start of the school year, gives teachers a baseline.

"This data will help us prevent and close achievement gaps before they become insurmountable," said Education Commissioner Terry Holliday, in a statement.

The goal, he said, is for every child to be reading on or above grade level by the time they leave 3rd grade.

But some teachers say they're being asked to pull double-duty: Many must teach preschool and kindergarten curriculums in one year.

"We find that about 70 percent of our children have never been read to by an adult," Engelhard Elementary School principal Teresa Meyer told the Associated Press. "Many have never even held a pencil before," she said.

A new study released last week found that indeed kindergarten is now the new 1st grade with expectations now even greater than ever before.

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