Report finds Carroll children are not ‘kindergarten ready’

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The News-Democrat Intern

More than half of Carroll County’s children were not deemed “ready” for kindergarten this past year, according to the 2013 BRIGANCE screening system.

Carroll County’s future kindergarten students were screened at readiness levels of 43.3 percent, according to the 2014 Early Childhood Profile, a report compiled by the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics. The system allows the screener to enter a child’s score and sends results back to a school district.

When children are screened according to this process, the person conducting the examination looks at five different categories: general knowledge, language and communication, physical well-being, self-help, and social-emotional behaviors.

“Many children are not coming to us as (kindergarten) ready,” said Gerda Wise, recently-hired elementary instructional supervisor and former Kathryn Winn Primary principal.

Carroll County students scored below the state average in general knowledge, language and communication, and physical well-being, but scored above state averages in the areas of self-help and social-emotional behavioral skills.

The report also included measures from third grade statewide testing assessments conducted in 2012-2013. The average statewide was 43.6 percent in mathematics and 47.7 percent in reading. Carroll County scored 37.4 percent in mathematics and 34.5 percent in reading. All of the neighboring counties tested below the state averages in both mathematics and reading. This group of third graders were in kindergarten during the 2009-2010 school year.

Neighboring area counties ranked as follows for kindergarten readiness: Gallatin County, 31.3 percent ready; Henry County, 51.8 percent; Trimble County, 52.0 percent ready; and Owen County, 66.9 percent ready. The statewide average for kindergarten readiness was 49.0 percent, according to the 2014 Early Childhood Profile.

Pam Williams, former elementary instructional supervisor and now an academic consultant for the Carroll County School District, said this past year, the number of kindergarten students fluctuated between 180 and 201 students district wide.

Williams cautioned that data from the profile is hard to negotiate and that the screening is not always indicative of what children are capable of when they are screened.

She said kindergarten students were screened last year with BRIGANCE and estimated the readiness percentage may have been slightly lower in 2013. She stressed the importance of teaching children when they are young.

“Early learning is so important for cognitive skills,” Williams said.

When measuring for kindergarten readiness, Williams said they look for social skills, language arts skills and math skills. These skills include a child knowing his or her first and last name and age, working cooperatively with other children, holding a book independently, telling a story, and counting. She also said it is important for children to learn how to communicate effectively with words because without words, a child’s basic needs would be difficult to meet and it could lead to different social problems.

She said about half of the county’s kindergarteners attended Head Start or preschool.

“Those students faired very well (during the screening),” Williams said.

Williams said the age between newborn and five-years-old are critical to a child’s learning, even if they don’t start a formal education until kindergarten. Williams said the Carroll County Early Childhood Council has different events and activities that can help parents prepare their children for kindergarten.

“With the right opportunity, every child can learn,” Williams said.