Maryland test data shows ‘shocking’ levels of pre-K learning loss

Maryland’s State Department of Education reports that fewer than half of students are “prepared for success” in kindergarten.

According to information provided during a State Board of Education meeting Tuesday, all of the state’s 24 school systems saw lower scores on tests designed to show “kindergarten readiness” in 2021 compared to the 2019-20 school year, when the tests were last administered.

The Kindergarten Readiness Assessment states that enrollment in prekindergarten programs dropped by 25% last year, and most students who did attend pre-K programs attended virtually.

Data from the report also showed:

  • 40% of Maryland students were found to be prepared for success in kindergarten. That’s a 7% drop from the 2019-20 school year.
  • 33% of African American kindergartners were found to be ready for school, compared to 54% of their white peers.
  • 19% of Hispanic kindergartners demonstrated readiness.
  • The data showed that kindergarten readiness dropped for all three groups: In 2019, 42% of African American kindergartners demonstrated “readiness,” 60% of white kindergartners were found to be prepared for school, and 26% of Hispanic kindergartners were ready.

According to the report, there’s a disparity in readiness when economic status is measured. Just 23% of children from low-income families were assessed as being kindergarten-ready versus 46% of those who don’t come from low-income households.

The data showed that 28% of children entering kindergarten in Prince George’s County demonstrated readiness. In Montgomery County, the rate was 46%.

The report was titled “Coming Back Stronger: Resilience and Opportunity,” but State Board of Education member Jean Halle said, “We’re coming back weaker, not stronger. You need to be shocked by these numbers.”

State Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury responded, “Absolutely.”

He said that given the investment of federal aid and Maryland’s Blueprint for the Future, which includes expanding high-quality pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds, “We really have no excuse to not get this right.”

Other data presented to school board members showed a slight increase in the high school graduation rate for the 2020-21 school year. More than 58,000 students graduated, a rate of 87.2%. That compares to a graduation rate of 86.6% in 2020.

The results from early fall of 2021 for the Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program showed that English language proficiency rates for students in grades three to eight dropped by 13 percentage points.

When looking at math results for the same age group, the number of students found to be proficient dropped by 16 percentage points.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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