School Readiness Progress Measured in Maryland

Apr 04, 2011

By Christine Johnson-Staub

As states and the federal government evaluate school reform efforts, early childhood programs are receiving more attention.  A number of studies, including research from North Carolina and now new data from Maryland, demonstrate that investments in high quality early childhood settings for children from birth to the age of school entry age can help give children the skills they need to thrive in school and beyond.  Unfortunately, research also shows us that many child care providers do not have the resources, training and knowledge they need to contribute to positive outcomes for the children in their care. 

As part of its school reform efforts, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) has worked to improve the quality of all child care settings-centers, Head Start, and family child care-to help children prepare for kindergarten, and it recently released school readiness data that shows those efforts are working.

As Maryland invests in child care quality improvement initiatives, the percentage of the state's children prepared to enter kindergarten continues to climb, and the state has been successful at beginning to close gaps among Maryland's kindergartners.

The results were measured using the state-developed Maryland Model of School Readiness (MMSR), which relies on teacher observation and assessment of work samples to determine children's preparedness for kindergarten. Using the Work Sampling System assessment to evaluate 30 indicators across all developmental domains, the MMSR measures whether children are "fully ready" for kindergarten, or whether they are "approaching" or "developing" readiness.

The MSDE cites access to full-day structured settings prior to school entry as a key factor in increased kindergarten readiness rates. It also highlights an increase in accredited early childhood programs and the implementation of several quality initiatives since the state created the Division of Early Childhood Development in 2005. Maryland assistant state superintendent for early childhood development, Rolf Grafwallner, has also indicated that the overall increase in readiness may in part be due to raising the age for kindergarten eligibility in recent years. READ MORE >>

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