ISBE survey shows just 1 in 4 kids ready for kindergarten

ISBE survey shows just 1 in 4 kids ready for kindergarten

CHAMPAIGN — The results of the Illinois State Board of Education's first survey of kindergarten readiness weren't exactly heartening, but they appeared to confirm what educators already knew:

What children do before coming to kindergarten matters.

The Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS) collected "readiness" data on 81 percent of kindergartners across the state via teachers who observed them over the first 40 days of the 2017-18 school year.

For ISBE, kindergartners "demonstrating readiness" meant that such "students have displayed the skills, knowledge and behaviors for all three developmental areas" — language/literacy, math and social/emotional development.

Statewide, only 24 percent of kindergartners met that criteria.

Among the statistics for local schools:

— In Unit 4, 22 percent of surveyed kindergartners demonstrated readiness in all three areas.

— In both the Urbana and Danville districts, 16 percent surveyed were considered ready in the three areas.

— Hoopeston Area and Westville both reported 25 percent readiness in the three areas.

— Bement (52 percent) and Tuscola (50) were on the high end. Arcola (9 percent) was on the low end.

The data could also be broken down by whether students receive free or reduced-price lunches. Overall, the survey showed that students who weren't on either plan tended to score higher than those who were.

ISBE officials warned not to read too much into the survey results, saying they "do not reflect the work taking place in schools prior to or after KIDS data collection. Children's experiences prior to kindergarten do not reflect district or school performance."

ISBE Superintendent Tony Smith called the data a "powerful tool" that families could use to "advocate for all the resources and supports all children need."

For Beverley Baker, community impact director for the United Way of Champaign County, the results emphasize the importance of the work that her organization and other early childhood educators are doing.

"(This data) should be a catalyst for our communities and our families so that all children can be ready for that first day," she said. "Teachers can work miracles, but not always in 40 days. The more we can do to reach families with information and help them be their child's first and best teacher, that's where we're trying to be creative and do that."

Baker said she hopes the data will be used to reiterate the need to create opportunities for all children to learn developmental skills before they ever walk into a classroom.

"We need all kinds of champions in this," she said.

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