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School Readiness


(links to source documents are in the postings below)

1. New!  The 2018 – 2019 Maryland Kindergarten Readiness - Maryland DOE
2. New!  A Promising New Measure of School Readiness - Child Trends 
3. Overview Kindergarten Readiness Assessments (video) - Midwest REL
4. Access to High Quality Early Care and Education (School Readiness) - CEELO
5. School Readiness Reporting Guide: Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems - ECDataWorks
6. Synthesis of IES-Funded Research on Mathematics: 2002–2013
7. Best Predictors of Early Academic Success - NCBI
8. Building High Quality Early Education - Council of Chief State School Officials (CCSSO)
9. New York City School Readiness - NYC Department of Education 
10. FAQ on Kindergarten Readiness Assessments - Child Trends
11. Kentucky School Readiness Framework - Kentucky Department of Education
12. Developmental Foundations of School Readiness for Infants and Toddlers:  A Research to                Practice Report - OPRE
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The 2018 – 2019 Maryland Kindergarten Readiness Assessment Technical Report – January 2019

February 14, 2019

Based on the 2018-2019 Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA) results, nearly half (47%) of all entering kindergarten children in Maryland displayed the foundational skills indicating they are fully ready for kindergarten. A third (33%) are approaching readiness. Twenty percent of children are assessed with emerging readiness skills.  Assessments involved four developmental domains:

  • Language and Literacy

  • Mathematics

  • Physical Well-Being and Motor Development

  • Social Functions

For KRA v2.0, reporting of the domain level results is based on the average scale score for students. Reporting of the KRA scores as a Composite is based on Performance Level Descriptors (PLD’s) that reflect the percentage of students who have reached one of the following levels of readiness:

· Demonstrating Readiness: Student demonstrates foundational skills and behaviors that prepare [him/her] for curriculum based on Maryland College and Career-Ready kindergarten standards.

· Approaching Readiness: Student demonstrates some foundational skills and behaviors that prepare [him/her] for curriculum based on Maryland College and Career-Ready kindergarten standards.

· Emerging Readiness: Student demonstrates limited foundational skills and behaviors that prepare [him/her] for curriculum based on Maryland College and Career-Ready kindergarten standards.

Maryland Kindergarten Readiness full rep
Maryland Kindergarten Readiness by Prior
Maryland Kindergarten Readiness by race

A Promising New Measure of Kindergarten Readiness

Child Trends

February 14, 2019

For years, states have sought a reliable way to measure the extent to which young children are on track to enter kindergarten, and to identify subgroups of children who might benefit from additional support or intervention in the pre-K years. A new pilot measure based on the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) may meet that need and fill a critical gap in policy-relevant early childhood data.

Child Trends researchers are working closely with HRSA’s Maternal Child Health Bureau (MCHB) to help the Bureau develop and refine this new National Outcome Measure of Healthy and Ready to Learn, using data from the National Survey of Children’s Health. The pilot measure seeks to capture the school readiness of 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds at the state and national levels by adopting a whole child perspective, to include measures of:

• physical health and motor development,

• self-regulation,

• social-emotional development,

• and early learning skills.

Once the measure is finalized, decision-makers (legislators, governors, early childhood administrators, educators, advocates, and families) will have a detailed picture of the school readiness of young children in their states, broken down by race/ethnicity, income, parental education, and other important factors.

Gathering input from the early childhood and education fields is an important step in the validation process, particularly as we refine the measure and seek to better understand its utility. HRSA is inviting all interested parties to submit their thoughts and ideas. Please send input to To learn more about the pilot measure, you can view this webinar, read our fact sheet, and subscribe to Child Trends enews to receive updates on the validation process (and our other great work).

KEA Readiness Assessment Tool - Child Tr
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Midwest Regional Educational Laboratory
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Click to run video
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Access to High Quality Early Care and Education: Readiness and Opportunity Gaps in America

A substantial body of research establishes that high quality preschool education can enhance cognitive and social development with long-term benefits for later success in school, the economy, and society more broadly. Such programs have been found to have particularly large benefits for children who are economically disadvantaged. Such children are found to have fallen behind their more advantaged peers in language and other abilities essential to school success prior to age 3, and the achievement gaps that receive so much attention on exams at 3rd grade and beyond are largely evident at kindergarten entry.  Therefore, access to quality preschool education is one way in which greater equality of opportunity can be extended to children from minority and low-income families.


Unfortunately, our research on access to preschool in the United Sates finds that access--especially access to quality--is highly unequal despite the extent to which public policy at federal and state levels targets disadvantaged children. In part, this is because targeted programs too often are not high quality. Also, targeting is not as effective in reaching disadvantaged populations as policymakers naively assume. In addition, disparate and uneven state policies exacerbate inequalities. Inequality of opportunity for good early education is a particular concern for African American, Hispanic, and non-English-speaking children.

This brief is organized into four main sections. The first describes the “readiness gaps” at kindergarten entry as of 2010. The remaining sections examine the extent to which there are “opportunity gaps” in the early care and education services that may be associated with those readiness gaps. We begin with the care arrangements at age 2 and then examine early care and education arrangements for children aged 3 and 4. Finally, we turn to state pre-K policy and its impacts on enrollment, quality standards, and funding for children ages 3 and 4. The information presented is based on analyses of three main sources of data: the State of the Preschool series, the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study- Kindergarten Cohort 2010/11 (ECLS-K) and the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort 2001 (ECLS-B).

CEELO NIEER Access to High Quality ECE.P
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CEELO NIEER K Readiness by Parent Educat
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CEELO NIEER K Readiness by Gender.PNG
CEELO NIEER K Readiness by Gender.PNG

School Readiness Reporting Guide

Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems - ECDataWorks

Data Types The types of data included in a school readiness report will depend on a state’s responses to the guiding questions above. Following are examples of types of data relevant to each of the three readiness report categories: ready students, ready schools, and ready communities.

Ready Students Student-level data in school readiness reports can include information from multiple developmental domains. These data can help identify needs for individual students as well as current capacities and areas of strength. Ready-student data should be used to inform decisions such as services needed, potential interventions, and individualization of instruction. These data also can be used to examine gains over time. Example of ready-student data include the following:

• Student demographic data

• Screening data

• Assessment data

• Health data

Ready Schools Data on ready schools can help identify current capacities and needs at the school level as well as areas of strength. Ready-schools data should be used to inform school-level decisions in areas such as teacher professional development and training, family engagement, funding, student-teacher ratios, and other areas that can affect the school’s ability to address the needs of incoming students and families. Examples of ready-schools data include the following:

• Staff workforce data:  Demographic data; credentials; training and professional development opportunities

• Policies and practices:  Family engagement; transitions; student-teacher ratios

• Additional measures of staff capacity:  e.g., cultural competency

• School administration: School characteristics (e.g., public, charter); financial data

Ready Communities: Data on ready communities can help identify needs at the community level as well as current capacities and areas of strength. Ready-communities data should be used to inform decisions about early childhood workforce professional development, pre-service teacher training, family engagement, health services, and other areas that can impact the ability of the programs and services in the community to address the needs of children and families. Examples of ready-communities data include the following:

• Population demographic data

• Community risk factors: Aggregate-level Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs),      birth registry (e.g., teen birth rate, premature births, education level of parent);          child maltreatment; multi-generational poverty

• Early childhood programs and services

• Early childhood provider quality ratings

• Early childhood workforce data:  Demographic data; credentials; training and            professional development opportunities

• Community literacy/reading programs

• Community health and healthcare access

• Parental education policies and practices

School Readiness Guidelines November 201
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Synthesis of IES-Funded

Research on Mathematics: 2002–2013

“International and national assessment data indicate that U.S. mathematics education is not as effective as it needs to be.”

“To address this national need to improve mathematics education, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) funded almost 200 grants on mathematics learning and teaching between 2002 and 2013 through its National Center for Education Research (NCER) and National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER).”

Improving Mathematics Learning:  IES has funded numerous grants to develop and test instructional strategies and instructional materials for improving students’ mathematics learning. This research has focused on a variety of mathematics topics, ranging from basic numeracy to algebra, and includes research on students in general education settings as well as students with or at risk for learning difficulties and disabilities. Results of IES-funded research for improving mathematics learning are organized into two sections based on mathematics topics and grade level: (1) Whole Numbers, Operations, and Word Problem Solving in Elementary School, and (2) Fractions and Algebra in Middle School.

Whole Numbers, Operations, and Word Problem Solving in Elementary School IES-funded research has made the following contributions.

Contribution 1. Measures emphasizing number, number relations, and number operations reliably identify students who are at risk for mathematics difficulties or disabilities.

Contribution 2. Early number competencies are malleable and can be taught successfully to students with and without mathematics difficulties through targeted and conceptually driven instruction.

Contribution 3. Incorporating activities with number lines reveals and supports students’ knowledge of whole numbers.

Contribution 4. Working memory capacity and computational fluency predict word problem-solving accuracy in the early grades.

Contribution 5. Training in how to use learning strategies improves word problem-solving skills in at-risk learners, although response to training may vary according to a student’s working memory capacity.

Contribution 6. Dynamic assessments involving teacher-student interaction may improve assessment accuracy and instruction for students at risk for mathematics difficulties.

Contribution 7. In contrast to popular belief, building blocks, “play money,” and other manipulatives sometimes have limited value in teaching elementary school mathematics. Manipulatives and materials that have minimal visual distractions can be more effective than ones that are more realistic or complex.

Contribution 8. Improving students’ general reasoning skills may also improve their ability to learn mathematics.

Contribution 9. Simple changes in the formatting of arithmetic problems can help improve students’ understanding of the equal sign.

Contribution 10. A supplemental mathematics curriculum that integrates the knowledge, skills, and teaching approaches used by Alaska Native people improves Alaskan students’ mathematics knowledge.

Review IES Funded Math Initiatives 2016.
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Best Predictors of Early Academic Success
Predictors of School Readiness.PNG
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Social-emotional behaviors were generally insignificant predictors of later academic performance

“Using 6 longitudinal data sets, the authors estimate links between three key elements of school readiness--school-entry academic, attention, and socio-emotional skills--and later school reading and math achievement. Across all 6 studies, the strongest predictors of later achievement are school-entry math, reading, and attention skills. A meta-analysis of the results shows that early math skills have the greatest predictive power, followed by reading and then attention skills.

By contrast, measures of socio-emotional behaviors, including internalizing and externalizing problems and social skills, were generally insignificant predictors of later academic performance, even among children with relatively high levels of problem behavior. Patterns of association were similar for boys and girls and for children from high and low socioeconomic backgrounds.” (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)

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Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)

Building High Quality Early Education 

CCSSO Equity Starts Early.PNG

In 2009, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) chiefs publicly acknowledged the “quiet crisis” threatening the future of young children from families of need, and outlined an agenda to (1) build more coherent state early childhood education systems aligned with kindergarten through third grade (K-3) schooling, (2) increase access to high-quality early childhood education programs, and (3) craft a new state-federal partnership to advance early learning opportunities, particularly for those children most at risk.  


Accordingly, (CCSSO) has identified five action steps to leverage the value of early childhood education for their state’s public education system. 

1. Engage families and communities in early learning.

2. Connect early childhood programs and elementary schools.

3. Accelerate improvement and innovation in early childhood programs.

4. Build a high performing early childhood workforce.

5. Increase investment to provide quality, voluntary early childhood education for all children.


Stark, D. R. and F. H. Stark Jr. (2016). Equity Starts Early: How Chiefs Will Build High-Quality Early Education, Council of Chief State School Officers.

Excerpts from Child Trends FAQ on

Kindergarten Readiness Assessment - November 2018

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Assessments of children’s skills and abilities conducted at the start of kindergarten—typically called Kindergarten Entry Assessments or Kindergarten Readiness Assessments (KEAs or KRAs)— are designed to measure important aspects of children’s development. These aspects include, for example:

  • the ability to problem solve;

  • complete tasks;

  • communicate thoughts and emotions effectively; and

  • recognize, comprehend, and use letters, sounds, words, and numbers in the right context.

Often, these assessments also aim to measure children’s physical health and motor skills, such as their ability to run, jump, and write legible letters and numbers. Currently, 33 states require a kindergarten entry assessment, and many others are exploring or piloting a KEA.  

Appropriate uses of KEA data include:

  • Assessment to guide ongoing instruction: KEAs can gather information on children’s progress toward learning specific skills and behaviors. This information can help teachers tailor their instructional approaches to support the learning needs of individual children.

  • Assessment to understand trends over time: Assessment data aggregated at the county, district, or state level can inform administrators and policymakers about the needs of the population of children they serve. These aggregate data can also provide insights about how multiple investments in early childhood may collectively support children’s development.

Inappropriate uses of KEA data

  • High-stakes accountability for programs, teachers, or children. KEA data should never be used by policymakers or administrators as the only source of information to make decisions about schools, programs, teachers, or children. For example, these data should never be used to determine whether a child should attend kindergarten. Instead, states should rely on age as the requirement for kindergarten entry (e.g., age 5 by September 1).

  • Screening or diagnosis. KEA data should never be used as a screening or diagnostic tool. Screening tools, such as the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ), are used to identify children who may need additional follow-up assessments to determine whether they have a developmental delay that would require further supports. KEAs are not designed to provide diagnostic information. Similarly, if a state or district is already using a screening tool, the information gathered from these assessments cannot be used as a KEA. Screening tools are not designed to assess the full range of skills typically included in a KEA. In addition, KEA tools are often selected because they align with a curriculum used in the school or district, whereas a screening tool is not tied to any particular curriculum.

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NYC School Readiness.PNG
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Ready to Grow…Ready to Learn…Ready to Succeed ​

Kentucky Governor’s Task Force on Early Childhood Development and Education

The Task Force recommends that in Kentucky: School readiness means each child enters school ready to engage in and benefit from early learning experiences that best promote the child’s success.

Families, early care and education providers, school staff and community partners must work together to provide environments and developmental experiences that promote growth and learning to ensure that all children in Kentucky enter school eager and excited to learn.

school-readiness-definition kentuckyjpg.

Developmental Foundations of School Readiness for Infants and Toddlers:  A Research to Practice Report




The research reviewed leads to the following conclusions:

  • Infancy/toddlerhood is the time when foundations of school readiness begin—adults who interact with infants and toddlers must be aware of the opportunities that exist to support these early developing skills and abilities in young children.

  • The unique developmental characteristics of infants/ toddlers require age-appropriate strategies for supporting school readiness.

  • Supporting school readiness during the infant/toddler period requires attention to all developmental domains.

  • Infant and toddler development is individual and embedded in family, culture, and other societal influences. Programs and policies should acknowledge, respect, and respond to these multiple influences on infants’ and toddlers’ development.

  • Program design and implementation should be informed by current research on infant and toddler development.

  • Professional development for early childhood educators and caregivers examining the specific skills needed to support infant and toddler development must be a priority.

  • Families, the general public, and policy makers must be made aware of the unique opportunities to lay the foundation for later school success during the first years of life.

  • Cross-systems collaboration is required for early care and education to meet its true potential to support the development of infants and toddlers.

  • Further research is needed. Current research supports the conclusion that school readiness begins in infancy and is supported by a range of high-quality comprehensive services available to infants, toddlers, and their families.

Development Foundations for School Readi
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