Thursday afternoon, Jan. 30, Governor Beshear and the Kentucky Department of Education released results for the Brigance Kindergarten Screen. Widely covered by WHAS11 and other media operations, this report measured how well prepared 5-year-olds who started Kindergarten in a Kentucky public school in August 2013 were for school.
In Jefferson County, 52.3 percent of the children were ready. That compares to only 34.6 percent in the Fall of 2012. This increase represents a 17.7 percent increase. For the entire state of Kentucky, 49 percent of the children were ready. The Brigance Screen measures five different areas: general knowledge and math, health and physical well-being, self-help skills, language and communication development and social and emotional development.
What do these five areas really measure? Tasks such as can a child count to ten? Does he or she play and share with other children? Can a child sing a simple song?
An interesting part of the media coverage was that the stories were reported from the negative perspective - one half of the children failed. Although nobody is satisfied with the fact that Kentucky is at the 50 percent level, I tend to look at the results from “the glass is half full” point of view.
This is particularly true with Jefferson County Public Schools. A 17.7 percent increase is to be celebrated!
So what do we do about the children who are not ready? Kevin Nix, the Director of Early Childhood Education for JCPS, is just beginning the analysis process with his team. Schools and administrators have the ability to break down data by individual schools and individual classrooms.
Initial analysis shows that children declined in the cognitive areas - the process where humans deal with information and apply knowledge. Does a child recognize names? Can he or she copy basic shapes? Having the ability to drill down to the individual classroom should be a real advantage for educators.
So what can we do? If you are a parent or grandparent, read to your children. Talk to your children. Stop by your local school and ask for a copy of the skills your child needs to master by the age of five (JCPS has a great one page guide). Be involved and be proactive.
No kids in your house. The next time you meet a teacher, thank them and encourage them. If they are a Kindergarten or Early Childhood teacher, give them a round of applause.