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Early Years Column

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Only 27 percent of public school kindergarten teachers assume that all children will be ready for 1st grade after kindergarten, and 70 percent would hesitate to promote those who are not ready, a survey of teachers shows.

The National Center for Education Statistics 1993 survey of 1,448 kindergarten teachers shows that most believe readiness cannot be pushed but that it can be enhanced by activities such as reading to children.

An N.C.E.S. brief comparing parents' and teachers' views, however, shows that parents are more likely to define readiness as knowing numbers and letters and paying attention.

Copies of "Public School Kindergarten Teachers' Views on Children's Readiness for School,'' Stock No. 065-000-00596-4, are available for $7.50 each from the Superintendent of Documents, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15250-7954.

"Readiness for Kindergarten: Parent and Teacher Beliefs,'' N.C.E.S. 93-257, is available by calling (800) 424-1616.

It may be wiser to offer one year of preschool to as many children as possible than two years to fewer children, suggests a study by Arthur Reynolds of Pennsylvania State University.

The study, involving 887 inner-city black children, showed that those in a Head Start-like program for two years consistently outperformed the one-year group in kindergarten. But the differences were not statistically significant from grades 1 to 6. Both groups outpaced those with no preschool.

Audits issued by the Health and Human Services Department's inspector general between August 1991 and December 1993 show that significant numbers of youngsters are in programs that fall short on health and safety standards.

The most recent of the reports, which cover programs funded under the federal Social Services Block Grant, Foster Care, and Head Start programs, cited 382 violations in 32 facilities in South Carolina. Problems included unsanitary conditions, hazardous play areas, and failure to insure criminal background checks.

Reports on Nevada, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Delaware, and Virginia and on 106 Native American Head Start facilities in seven states also cited numerous health and safety flaws or problems with employee-records checks.

U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., voiced dismay last month about the violations and pledged to review programs funded under the Child Care and Development Block Grant.

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