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Less than half of the preschoolers in Montgomery and Prince George’s County were ready for school last year

Less than half of the students starting elementary school in Montgomery and Prince George’s County last year were ready for kindergarten a new report from the Maryland State Department of Education. Kindergarten readiness has declined in both counties and across Maryland overall since it was last measured two years ago.

The Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA) is conducted at the beginning of the school year by teachers who assess their students in four categories: math, social fundamentals, physical well-being and motor development. Nationwide, 45 percent of girls were ready, compared to 35 percent of boys.

In Prince George’s County, 28 percent of 9,676 preschoolers were considered ready, compared to 46 percent of 10,577 preschoolers in Montgomery County. Nationwide, 40 percent of the students went to school completely finished. That’s a 7 percent decrease for all three from fall 2019.

“Unfortunately, [this] is not unexpected given the disruption over the past two years from the pandemic, particularly the disruption to childcare,” Montgomery County Councilman Nancy Navarro told WAMU/DCist. “Obviously it’s something I’m very concerned about.” Navarro is a member of the Council’s Education and Culture Committee.

A quarter fewer children in Maryland attended preschool this past school year, and for those who did, the education was mostly virtual. Many other preschool children in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties entered the school year after receiving only home or informal care. The report also shows that kindergarten teachers with disabilities, black kindergarten teachers and kindergarten teachers from low-income households lagged even further behind.

In Montgomery County, 69 percent of white preschoolers were considered ready for kindergarten, compared to 22 percent of Hispanic students and 44 percent of black students. The performance gap was slightly less pronounced in Prince George’s County, where 38 percent of white preschoolers were ready, compared to 11 percent of Hispanic students and 39 percent of black students.

“The problem of the academic achievement gap — that’s where it starts, and then it gets worse as it moves through the K-12 system.” said Councilor Navarro. “That’s why it’s so important to me that we invest in a child’s first five years of life to provide quality, accessible and affordable childcare for all.”

In 2019, Navarro led a Montgomery County initiative aimed at expanding access to preschool programs and childcare for low-income families, with a specific focus on areas of the county with greatest need. These locations include Gaithersburg, Montgomery Village, Glenmont-Wheaton, Burtonsville, White Oak, and Silver Spring.

Navarro said $30 million has been invested in the effort so far. The money was used to train people who wanted to become childcare workers and to subsidize university places.

According to the KRA, children with disabilities are also disadvantaged. Only one in ten children with disabilities in Prince George’s County was ready for kindergarten this year, and fewer than one in 20 in Montgomery County.

“Simply returning to normal will not be enough to recover and accelerate student learning after the pandemic,” Maryland State Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury said said in a statement. “The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future offers us this once-in-a-generation moment and calls for us to rebuild our foundation for early learning and expand access to quality preschool for every three- and four-year-old child in the state. ”

In 2020, lawmakers passed the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, which increased annual funding for education in the state by $3.8 billion. Expanding access to early childhood education was a key objective of the legislation, which provided funding to open more centers for children to receive affordable pre-kindergarten education and established a sliding scale to determine how much families could afford.

Last year in Prince George’s County, Money from the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future supported a 4-week educational summer program for 600 incoming kindergarten children Rising Stars. The county also plans to open more centers for pre-kindergarten learning in the coming years.

 

The post Less than half of the preschoolers in Montgomery and Prince George’s County were ready for school last year appeared first DCist.

https://dcist.com/story/22/03/23/maryland-kindergarten-readiness/ Less than half of the preschoolers in Montgomery and Prince George’s County were ready for school last year

DUSTIN JONES

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