ISBE: Second consecutive year of increases in kindergarten readiness

Increases in readiness follow investments in early childhood.
kindergarten classroom
kindergarten classroom(Terri Russell)
Published: Aug. 24, 2020 at 12:06 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WIFR) - The Illinois State Board of Education released the third year of data for the Kindergarten Individual Development Survey, showing two consecutive years of increases in kindergarten readiness.

The KIDS data collected in fall 2019 show 29 percent of students entered kindergarten meeting readiness benchmarks in all three developmental areas, up from 26 percent in 2018 and 24 percent in 2017. View the summary report and full data here.

The increases in kindergarten readiness follow the state’s historic investments in early childhood education. Gov. Pritzker’s fiscal year 2020 budget added an additional $50 million for the Early Childhood Block Grant to increase the quality of early childhood programming and expand access for Illinois’ youngest learners. Gov. Pritzker’s 2021 budget maintained this historic funding level for the ECBG at $543.7 million, according to the announcement on Monday morning.

The announcement claims Gov. Pritzker’s investments represent the largest increase and highest funding for the ECBG in state history.

“Gov. Pritzker is committed to making Illinois the best state in which to raise a young family and to ensuring that children have the early learning experiences they need to be ready for kindergarten,” according to the announcement. “As a result, nearly 10,000 more students attended early childhood programs last year before entering kindergarten. The investments also helped 655 programs increase the quality of their services.”

ECBG programs primarily serve students from homes with limited resources, and state investments have made an impact. Twenty percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch demonstrated readiness in all three developmental areas in 2019, up from 18 percent in 2018 and 16 percent in 2017.

KIDS measures students’ early skills in three areas – social and emotional development, language and literacy, and math – within the first 40 days of kindergarten. Using the developmentally appropriate KIDS protocol, teachers observe students and document interactions and behaviors as children go about their daily routines, such as playing, doing schoolwork, having conversations, and following directions.

The state requires teachers to observe students on 14 measures, which provide a proxy for kindergarten readiness at the group level. Teachers have the option to collect evidence for additional measures to gain a deeper understanding of individual student development. KIDS data should never be used for school accountability, teacher evaluations, or student placement or retention.

Among the 118,854 kindergarten students rated on all 14 required measures in fall 2019:

  • 29 percent demonstrated readiness in all three developmental areas, up from 26 percent in 2018 and 24 percent in 2017;
  • 37 percent did not demonstrate readiness in any developmental area, down from 39 percent in 2018 and 42 percent in 2017.

The 2019 KIDS data show steady improvements in each of the three developmental areas:

  • 56 percent demonstrated readiness in social and emotional development, up from 53 percent in 2018 and 49 percent in 2017.
  • 47 percent demonstrated readiness in language and literacy development, up from 46 percent in 2018 and 44 percent in 2017.
  • 35 percent demonstrated readiness in math, up from 33 percent in 2018 and 30 percent in 2017.

A higher percentage of students in nearly all racial groups demonstrated readiness in all developmental areas, including 23 percent of Black students, up from 22 percent in 2018 and 19 percent in 2017; and 17 percent of Hispanic students, up from 15 percent in 2018 and 13 percent in 2017, according to the announcement on Monday morning.

The KIDS data appear to show a decrease in readiness for English Learners from 2018 to 2019; however, the ISBE research team has determined that this is likely an artifact of the fact that schools roster students for the KIDS assessment (and identify them in the assessment database as English Learners) prior to making final English Learner identifications for the kindergarten year. Analysis of KIDS data based on final English Learner identifications shows that this student group had year-over-year increases in readiness that were similar to non-English Learners, according to the announcement on Monday morning.

KIDS data informs and empowers conversations about what supports children need to successfully transition into kindergarten – how the state can invest in early childhood supports, how schools can adjust curricula and instruction to meet students’ needs, and how families can support students’ healthy development at home. KIDS data will appear on the Illinois Report Card for the first time this fall, according to the announcement on Monday morning.

Learn more about KIDS here.

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