State Board moves forward with kindergarten readiness tool

The State Board of Education on Wednesday approved moving forward with a statewide measurement tool to collect data on students entering kindergarten.

Under the proposal, school districts would ask parents or caregivers to fill out a brief questionnaire about their student as the student is about to enter kindergarten.

The questionnaire will be used by teachers to see where the child is developmentally and determine if there are any additional supports that should be used. The questionnaire touches on communication, problem-solving and social and emotional skills.

The board approved, 7-1, a recommendation from the Kansas State Department of Education’s Kindergarten Readiness Workgroup, which had conducted a pilot program this year.

Board member Steve Roberts voted against the proposal, saying that he felt the data may be used to promote pre-school when he thought many children do better learning at home instead of pre-school.

But Board Chairman Jim Porter said the measurement tool fit well with the Kansans Can vision of having the state lead the world in the success of each student. Kindergarten readiness is one of the major goals of the Kansans Can mission.

“If we are going to meet the needs of each child, we need to know where each child is. It gives us a starting point,” Porter said.
Now, the Kansas State Department of Education will issue a request for proposal and seek grant funding to help defray the costs to school districts

The Ages and Stages Questionnaire was used in the pilot program by 37 school districts. It asked questions to get a snapshot of the incoming student. The questionnaires could be answered by the parent or both the parent and teacher and could be filled out online, in the class or at home.

Kindergarten Readiness Workgroup members emphasized the tool would not be used to say certain children weren’t ready for school, but would be used to see what supports, if any, would be needed.

At the start of each school year, approximately 37,000 children show up for kindergarten in public schools across Kansas.

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