So it should come as no surprise that Florida intends to make life more miserable for four year olds.
|What do you mean, I have to repeat being three?|
Florida has piloted a new kindergarten readiness test. ostensibly to see which pre-school providers are doing a good job. According to the test, barely half of the Voluntary PreKindergarten (VPK) graduates were prepared.
There are several problems with this test.
One is that the test is given in the fall, as the students begin kindergarten. In other words, three months after then have finished pre-K and have spent the entire summer (1/20th of a five year old's entire life) away from school. Chances that littles have forgotten some of what they learned are excellent.
Another is that the test is given on computer. Yes, a five year old child has to take a test that involves comfortably using a computer mouse or tablet. The state argues that they totally give the children little computer tutorials before the test starts, so it's no biggie. On this point, the state is an idiot.
And the test focuses primarily on literacy, with no attention paid to social and emotional gains. And the test is a single snapshot and not a measure of growth.
These are all valid criticisms and excellent reasons to take the whole business back to the drawing board.
But beyond all of this is one other important point, and I cannot say this hard enough.
If your test tells you that half of kindergarten students are not ready for your kindergarten, the problem is not with the children..
I repeat: The. Problem. Is. Not. With. The. Children.
Florida's test results do not show that around half of kindergarten students are not ready for kindergarten. Florida's test results show that Florida's kindergartens are not properly prepared to teach the children.
Okay-- there is another possibility that the test results actually show that the tests are crap. This is Florida, so that's a very real possibility.
But if we are going to insist that the results are valid, those results are indictment of the kindergarten expectations and not of the children or their pre-schools.
All the pre-school in the world will not alter the speed and stages of human development. All the expectations in the world will not increase the academic capabilities of four year olds. This whole business is foolishness of the rankest kind, a program that can have no good effects and will have the effect of damaging littles either by making them hate school or by convincing them and their parents that they are defective somehow.
Can there be such a thing as a kindergarten readiness assessment that shows if children are ready for the Big K? Yes, there can.
But if that test shows that a vast number of children are not ready, the fault is not in the children. It is not a four year old's job to Get Ready for School. It is the school's job to get ready for that child. Honestly, Florida-- just once, get your act together.