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More States Require Kindergarten Entrance Exams, Database Shows

More than half of the states and the District of Columbia now require children to take kindergarten entrance assessments, a trend that continues to grow, the Denver-based Education Commission of the States reports.

Such exams aim to gauge students' abilities in the areas of language and literacy development, cognition and general knowledge, motor skills, and social and emotional development, the organization reports in a 50-state analysis of kindergarten policies released March 27. 

These assessments "can provide valuable information for educators and parents," said Bruce Atchison, the director of the Early Learning Institute at ECS, in a statement. "We need to know where kids are so we can meet them and move them forward appropriately."

In 2013, three states—Iowa, Nevada, Oregon and Wisconsin—took action on kindergarten entrance assessments, ECS reports. Iowa, Oregon, and Wisconsin now mandate such exams; Nevada is requiring a pilot program to do so.

In addition to the exam trend, ECS took note of the following trends:

• Kindergartners are older than they were before. States are moving up their cut-off dates resulting in slightly older students entering school.

• The number of hours spent in kindergarten varies greatly. While Illinois, Montana, Utah and Vermont require a minimum of two hours per day in kindergarten, Texas mandates seven hours in its full-day program. 

• Student-to-teacher kindergarten ratios are very different depending upon the state. In New Mexico and New York, a minimum of one teacher is required for every 15 students but in South Carolina, the number of students per teacher is capped at 30. 

ECS is an organization created by states to track for states to track policies and translate research, among other activities. 

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