School & District Management What the Research Says

Incoming Kindergartners Are Less Ready Than a Decade Ago

By Sarah D. Sparks — October 08, 2019 1 min read

Incoming kindergartners in 2017 started school with lower early-math and -reading skills than their peers nearly a decade earlier, though some achievement gaps closed somewhat.

In a new working paper released by the Annenberg Institute at Brown University, researchers analyzed the math and reading readiness of more than 2 million incoming kindergartners, based on their fall performance on an adaptive test by NWEA, formerly the Northwest Evaluation Association.

It showed students’ school readiness was flat in both subjects until 2014, then declined by about a quarter of a standard deviation in math and more than a tenth of a standard deviation in reading by 2017. Indicators for low-, middle-, and high-performing students all fell. The gap between low- and high-income students’ readiness closed during this time, but the readiness level of both groups fell.

Researchers also found incoming classes became more diverse over time, with the percentage of white students declining 10 percent in the reading sample and 8 percent in math. Gaps in readiness that favored girls over boys and white students over black and Hispanic students narrowed, but still remain significant.

A version of this article appeared in the October 09, 2019 edition of Education Week as Incoming Kindergartners Are Less Ready Than a Decade Ago

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