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Kindergarten-readiness tests show need for early childhood programs


A series of first-time tests of kindergarteners in Kent County shows many of them need exposure to more early childhood programs, according to Kent ISD educators specializing in early childhood development.

The tests showed 40 percent of kindergarteners tested were considered ready for kindergarten while 35 percent were “approaching readiness.” Twenty-five percent were classified as “emerging readiness,” the lowest category. The tests were given in the fall of 2018 to 65 percent of kindergartners in 19 of Kent County’s 20 school districts.

Students from low income families and Hispanic and African American households tested lower than students from white households, according to the test results.

Although kindergarten readiness tests were not given statewide, Kent ISD officials were able to compare the results to similar statewide tests in Maryland and Ohio. Those tests showed Kent County kindergarteners – especially those in Hispanic and African American families — were not as prepared as their peers in Maryland and Ohio.

Ashley Karsten, Great Start Readiness Program supervisor for Kent ISD, said the test results show the need for early childhood programs. The first round of funding from a countywide early childhood millage that was approved by voters last fall will help establish those early childhood programs, she said.

Last fall, Kent County voters approved a “Ready by 5” millage request to support early childhood development programs. The request for 0.25 mills, to provide an estimated $5.7 million per year, was approved 142,875 to 109,513.

“Our biggest takeaway from the test is that it confirmed early childhood programs are effective. The tests show that where they had early childhood experiences, they were ready for kindergarten,” said Kelli Campbell Brockway, director of teaching and learning for Kent ISD.

“We’re going to keep trying to provide that opportunity to as many students in Kent County as we can.”

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James Harger
James Harger
James Harger left School News Network in January of 2020. James previously reported on West Michigan's economy, courts and politics for The Grand Rapids Press and Mlive.com for more than 37 years. He also is employed as Servanthood Leader at Immanuel Lutheran Church in downtown Grand Rapids. A graduate of Central Michigan University, he also has worked for publications in Holland, Mount Pleasant and Lansing. He is married to Lisa and has one daughter, who lives in Ann Arbor.

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