Analysis of Gaps Among Maryland's Kindergartners

May 05, 2010

By Elizabeth Hoffmann and Teresa Lim

Data tracking and analyses can help states identify subgroups within the early childhood population or specific areas of the state that may require additional assistance, and can help pinpoint those school districts facing particularly difficult economic or other challenges. 

According to new data released by the Advocates for Children and Youth, the disparity in literacy readiness between low-income children and their higher-income classmates grew from 17 percent in the 2008-2009 school year to 19 percent in the 2009-2010 school year, while minority children showed larger gaps. The literacy readiness gap between African American children and White children grew by 6 percent during the same period, while the gap between Hispanic children and their White classmates grew by 4 percent.

These new figures demonstrate a reversal in a state that has been steadily moving forward to prepare all young children for academic success. From 2006-2009, the disparity in literacy readiness between low-income and minority children and their higher-income and White classmates had been decreasing in much of the state, although in two of Maryland's largest districts (Prince George's and Baltimore City), for instance, gaps in school readiness remained stagnant overall.

These literacy data come from a comprehensive initiative, the Maryland Model of School Readiness (MMSR), that seeks to bring together parents, early childhood providers, and kindergarten teachers to ensure that children are ready to succeed in school. The MMSR includes research-based instruction and age-appropriate assessments. In the beginning of the kindergarten year, kindergarten teachers do an initial assessment of children using the Work Sampling System, which looks across seven domains: social and personal development, language and literacy, mathematical thinking, scientific thinking, social studies, the arts, and physical development and health. The model ties together assessment and classroom instruction with family communication, coordination with early childhood programs, and integrated staff professional development activities. By working across settings--in child care, in Head Start, and in public schools with prekindergarten and kindergarten teachers--the MMSR strives to promote the healthy development of all young children in Maryland.

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