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Early Childhood Education Focusing on Kindergarten Preparation!

MD Kindergarten Readiness




Press Release:                   For Immediate Release                                           

Contact:                           Bill Reinhard, 410.767.0486

Baltimore, MD                   (March 25, 2014)


The Children entering kindergarten in Maryland public schools are walking in with better academic, physical, and social skills than ever before, according to a new report by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE).


“Children Entering School Ready to Learn—School Readiness Information for School Year 2013-14,”areport by MSDE’s Division of Early Childhood Development, reveals steady progress across all demographic subgroups.  Maryland students entering kindergarten fully prepared for learning stood at  83 percent in 2014.  That is an increase of 69 percent over the past 12 years.


“Our nation’s achievement gap doesn’t suddenly materialize in 

third grade, eighth grade, or high school.  It walks through the kindergarten door,” said State Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery.  “The only way to eliminate gaps in achievement among racial and economic subgroups is by providing top quality early childhood education.  The data is clear: it really works.”


The Maryland Model for School Readiness (MMSR), launched in 2001, is used to observe, evaluate, and document what each kindergartener knows and is able to do.  That system is giving way next year to the new Ready for Kindergarten (R4K): Maryland’s Early Childhood Comprehensive System, which builds on the success of the MMSR, but sets a new baseline.


The R4K, developed through Maryland’s $50 million Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Grant in partnership with the Ohio Department of Education, aligns with the new College and Career-Ready Standards.  R4K looks at seven domains: social foundations, physical well-being and motor development, language and literacy, mathematics, science, social studies, and the arts.  R4K has two components:

  • Early Learning Assessment, measuring the progress of learning in young children, three to six years old, across the seven domains.
  • Kindergarten Assessment, administered to all incoming kindergarteners, measuring school readiness in the seven developmental domains.


“R4K expands on Maryland’s leadership in early childhood education,” said Dr. Rolf Grafwallner, Maryland’s Assistant State Superintendent for Early Childhood Development.  “The more we understand where children are when they start formal learning, the better prepared we are to provide support and set our youngest students on the path to succeed.”


Today’s release of the final MMSR data reveals dramatic improvement in kindergarten readiness over the past 12 years. For example:

  • School readiness levels for African American children have increased from 37 percent in 2002 to 80 percent – a 43-percentage point jump.
  • The percentage of Hispanic children who are ready for school increased from 39 percent in 2002 to 73 percent this year, even as the student population has increased.
  • The readiness of English language learners has also improved.  The number of English language learners fully ready for kindergarten stood at 35 percent in 2002.  This year it is 72 percent – a 37-percentage point increase.
  • The number of special education students considered fully ready for kindergarten improved 26 percentage points since 2002 to 56 percent. 


MSDE has found that improved MMSR results also translate to better results in the Maryland School Assessment by the time students reach third grade.  Children who enter kindergarten fully school-ready are far more likely to be proficient in both reading and math by Grade Three.


The MMSR study results continue to spotlight the critical importance of high-quality early learning opportunities.  Children who come into kindergarten from structured early-care settings started school better prepared for learning than those who remained at home or in the homes of relatives, the research found.  Children enrolled in public school pre-K programs (83 percent fully ready for kindergarten), child care centers (89 percent), and non-public nursery schools (93 percent) the year prior to kindergarten exhibited stronger school readiness levels than those who were at home or in informal care settings the year prior to kindergarten.  There also were significant gains for children who were enrolled in Head Start Centers, whose readiness increased from 29 percent in 2001-2002 to 73 percent in 2013-2014.


School Readiness Information    

School Year 2013-2014      

Executive Summary Report                                  

State Report


In school year 2014-2015, local school systems will begin using a new system for assessing school readiness. The new system, known as Ready for Kindergarten (R4K): Maryland’s Early Childhood - Comprehensive Assessment System, aligns with the new State standards for K-12 instruction. R4K provides a single coordinated system for recognizing the needs and measuring the learning progress (knowledge, skills, and abilities) of all children from 36 to 72 months (3 to 6 years of age) in seven domains of child learning. R4K has two components:


An Early Learning Profile measures the progress of learning in young children, 36 to 72 months, across five levels of learning progressions in seven domains. They describe the pathway that children typically follow as they learn or the sequence in which knowledge, skills, and abilities develop. Each child's progress is monitored along a continuum and tracked over time. In this way, early educators, working with 3- and 4-year-oldds can create individualized learning opportunities and plan interventions, if needed, to ensure that children are on the path of kindergarten readiness.


The Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA) is administered to all incoming kindergarteners, measuring school readiness in seven developmental domains. The KRA provides a snapshot of school readiness levels, making it possible to confidently determine if entering students have the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to succeed in kindergarten. The KRA also identifies the individual needs of children, enabling teachers to make informed instruction decisions.



In August of 2014, I will be taking a two day training (12 hours), the same training that all MD state Kindergarten teachers will be taking this summer, to review the new standards and assessments that MSDE will use to replace the current Maryland Model for School Readiness assessment system.  This new state mandated assessment will guide our curriculum and goals for all students entering Kindergarten. 



All students deserve a strong start to school – a start that sets them on the path for success in kindergarten and beyond. Starting this fall, all students entering Kindergarten will participate in the statewide assessment that includes measures in early literacy, early math, social-emotional development, approaches to learning, and self-regulation.


The KRA will provide parents, teachers, and early childhood providers with a common understanding of what children know and are able to do upon entering school. The common statewide assessment will also provide a statewide perspective that will allow us to track trends and progress over time. 

We know that achievement gaps start early – generally before students even enter Kindergarten – and that they are most successfully addressed early. The results of the Kindergarten assessment will help us address these gaps right way so that children can start kindergarten ready to learn.


It’s an opportunity to take a look back at where kids have been in order to take a look forward at the unique path that will make them most successful in school and life.



Children who enter kindergarten with high levels of readiness are more likely to succeed academically throughout their school careers. According to the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), there is a strong link between kindergarten readiness and Grade 3 reading scores on the Maryland School Assessment (MSA). In fact, the data show that children who enter kindergarten with full readiness skills in Language & Literacy have a 91% chance of scoring as Proficient or Advanced on the Grade 3 MSA in Reading.


The readiness of Maryland's children also has a powerful impact on our society and economy:

  • Economist Arthur Rolnick of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis estimates that an investment in early care and education can earn a 16% financial rate of return.
  • Nobel Prize-winning economist James J. Heckman's research shows that effective early care and education decreases the need for Special Education services and remediation, and also reduces juvenile delinquency, teen pregnancy, and dropout rates.

A Pew Center study by economist Mark Cohen and criminologists Alex Piquero and Wesley Jennings finds that the societal "pay now" costs of supporting healthy prenatal care, sound parental skills, and quality PreK programs are a fraction of the "pay later" price associated with the problems of low birth weight babies, child abuse and neglect, and high school dropouts.  


Kindergarten Academics Raise Need for Early-Childhood Education