Early Years Column

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Most Georgia kindergarten students have demonstrated their readiness for 1st grade on the basis of a new state test.

State officials say 92 percent of the 90,434 students tested in April passed the 90-minute California Achievement Test, which assesses visual, aural, and number skills.

Georgia students scored above the national average in all three areas, according to the state education department.

The testing program has drawn fire from experts, who say tests are unreliable for young children and may miscast some as slow learners.

Werner Rogers, the state school superintendent, has said teacher judgments and other tests will be weighed "where there is still doubt'' about CAT results, and that schools must offer special help for children held back.

Educators have voiced support for a bill before the Congress aimed at boosting the success rate of disadvantaged preschoolers, but they say such programs should be specially tailored.

"The Prekindergarten Early Dropout Intervention Act of 1988,'' S 2034, sponsored by Senator Lawton Chiles, Democrat of Florida, would authorize $25 million in grants for pilot programs in language and basic skills for at-risk preschoolers.
At a May 27 hearing before the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, Gregory A. Humphrey, director of legislation for the American Federation of Teachers, said the AFT supports early- intervention efforts, but they should not be "modeled after a grade-school setting'' or track progress with standardized tests.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, chairman of the panel and sponsor of "Smart Start,'' a more costly and comprehensive preschool bill, said S 2034 has a better shot at passage in the current session.

New York City Schools Chancellor Richard R. Green is launching summer kindergartens to help prepare students with limited kindergarten experience for school.

The program, to run from 8:30 A.M. to 2:30 P.M. daily from July 5 to Aug. 12 and include meals, is for children with no prior schooling or identified as needing extra support.

"Type A'' preschoolers exhibit cardiovascular symptoms that could be a precursor to coronary heart disease, according to a study in the May/June issue of Nursing Research journal.

Researchers Marie Scott Brown and Christine Tanner of the Oregon Health Sciences University studied 144 3- to 6-year-olds in preschools in the Pacific Northwest. Children deemed competitive, aggressive, and impatient showed blood- pressure changes in response to challenges that mirrored those seen in Type A adults, who are at greater risk of heart attack. --DG

Vol. 07, Issue 38

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