How kindergarten readiness predicts performance

Districts offer evening classes, robots, and mentoring from senior citizens to prepare preschoolers
By: | October 11, 2019
Evening preschools, such as this program in Vancouver, Washington, are among the many ways school district leaders are expanding access to pre-K to better prepare children for kindergarten.Evening preschools, such as this program in Vancouver, Washington, are among the many ways school district leaders are expanding access to pre-K to better prepare children for kindergarten.

A readiness test given early in the kindergarten year can predict a student’s performance at the end of first grade, researchers at the University of Missouri have found.

Some 350 kindergartners in six elementary schools were screened, and then retested in math and reading 18 months later. The researchers also had teachers rate the students’ social and emotional skills.

Kindergartners who rated poorly in academic and behavior readiness were far more likely to display disruptive behavior and have low reading scores at the end of first grade.

“This is a critical time to assess student academic and social readiness, so that teachers can provide support as early as possible before issues worsen and become harder to change,” Special Education Professor Melissa Stormont said in a release about the study. “This study highlights the need to support children more when they transition to kindergarten.”


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Organizations in and outside education are working to expand access to preschool to better prepare students for kindergarten. Vancouver Public Schools in Washington offers free evening preschool in nearly a dozen of its elementary schools, District Administration reported in 2018.

Also in Washington, Highline Public Schools created a Montessori preschool in a local retirement community. At the Highline/Wesley Homes Intergenerational Preschool, residents guide children in activities such as sewing, planting flowers, writing letters, telling stories and cooking.

And in Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ childcare centers, high school students taught robotics to preschoolers this past school year.


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A company called Waterford UPSTART has launched an online preschool program to reach students who don’t have access to traditional pre-K instruction, DA reported earlier this year.

Waterford UPSTART partners with districts and other agencies to enroll students and provide free computers and broadband access. Students are required to spend at least 15 minutes on the program, five days per week.

The company has joined Mississippi’s Head Start Association to launch a statewide early childhood program, according to The Hechinger Report. 

Elsewhere, educators and policymakers are trying to get a better handle on kindergarten readiness. In Colorado, for example, Gov. Jared Polis has pushed for more transparent data on kindergarten readiness to more accurately judge how young students are doing in that state, Chalkbeat reported.


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