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Unready in Colorado

A survey showing that many Colorado children enter kindergarten and 1st grade lacking the skills that teachers say they need is getting attention from policymakers and education groups in the state.

"Colorado has been a national leader in the standards-based reform movement, and these results make a clear connection between where kids start and where kids end up academically," said Garrit Westervelt, the president of Educare Colorado, a survey sponsor.

More than 1,000 teachers statewide completed the survey. They said many children, for example, can't recognize their names in print or count to 20 when they start school.

The Colorado Children's Campaign, a research and advocacy group, conducted the poll with Educare Colorado, a nonprofit group working to improve early-childhood services.

"The results of this survey mirror national reports stating that 40 percent of children entering the school system are not prepared," said Doug Price, one of the founders of Educare.

Highlights of the survey responses include:

  • Eight out of 10 kindergarten teachers said that distinguishing between numbers and letters is "extremely" or "very important," but said that four in 10 kindergartners don't have that skill. And one in five 1st graders lacks that skill, 1st grade teachers said.
  • Ninety-one percent of the 1st grade and 83 percent of the kindergarten teachers said that grasping a pencil and positioning a piece of paper correctly is "extremely" or "very important." But they say that more than one-fourth of Colorado children enter school without the skill.
  • Almost 40 percent of kindergartners and about 25 percent of 1st graders can't recognize, name, and draw basic shapes, such as a circle, square, and triangle, their teachers say.

Mr. Westervelt said K-12 and early-childhood educators "should engage parents and help parents provide the best care for their kids."

—Linda Jacobson

Vol. 21, Issue 25, Page 22

Published in Print: March 6, 2002, as State Journal

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