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New Study: Miss. Kindergarten Teachers say 41 Percent of Students not Prepared

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Knox Graham

STARKVILLE, Miss.–A survey sent out to Mississippi kindergarten teachers asking them about the preparedness of their students upon arrival to kindergarten has released its findings.

The survey conducted by Mississippi KIDS COUNT titled “Ready or Not” showed that teachers estimated 41 percent of their students were not prepared for kindergarten on their first day.

“From birth to eight much of the brain architecture is built making it more difficult and costly for kids to catch up later in life,” said Dr. Linda Southward director of Mississippi KIDS COUNT. “By the time they turn eight, many third graders are far behind where they need to be in child development.”

The survey revealed that seven out of 10 teachers that participated had at least one child repeating the kindergarten year in their classroom.

“For children under the age of six in Mississippi, only 17 percent are assessed [before kindergarten] compared to 54 percent in North Carolina,” said Southward. “And in Alabama they now have 100 percent of their children screened in all major areas of health, vision, hearing, dental, and developmental screening.”

Currently there are around 43,000 kindergarten students enrolled publicly in Mississippi public schools.

The survey also reported that racial disparities exist in the classrooms.  Classes made up of mostly black students tended to be larger in size, had less children whom teachers believed had “significant adult involvement” in their lives, and high percentages of children who were identified as “not kindergarten ready.”

This study coincided with the release of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s policy report “The First Eight Years: Giving Kids a Foundation for Lifetime Success” that has followed 13,000 kindergartners in 1998-1999 and tracked their academic careers.

The national study has set three policy recommendations to prepare America’s children for success:

  • Support parents so they can effectively care and provide for their children
  • Increase access to high-quality birth through age eight programs, beginning with investments that target low-income children
  • Develop comprehensive, integrated programs and data systems to address all aspects of a child’s development and support their transitions to elementary school and related programs for school-age children.

Other findings from the Mississippi KIDS COUNT survey:

  • Teachers identified lack of preparation for kindergarten as the top challenge facing the students
  • Teachers believed that one out of three students didn’t have significant adult involvement in their lives
  • Thirty-three percent of teachers currently have conversations with preschool teachers about children’s transitions to kindergarten, but less than one percent of these surveyed had in home visits prior to the kindergarten year
  • Almost eighty-three percent of teachers surveyed supported the adoption of universal school readiness assessments

 

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