Understanding the condition of children as they enter school can provide clues to help parents and teachers understand children's performance later in their school career. This information can also provide teachers with essential information for individualizing the curriculum to help children learn more effectively. Finally, assessment of the condition of children could be an important part of accountability measurement.
This paper provides data on what states are doing with regard to defining and assessing the condition of children as they enter school, often referred to as readiness for school. Early childhood state representatives in each of the 50 states were contacted and interviewed regarding their state's policies on children's readiness for kindergarten. Results indicate that as of January 2000:
- age was the criterion most often used to determine eligibility for kindergarten,
- no state had an official statewide definition of school readiness,
- several states were studying the issue of school readiness, and
- local school districts were often making decisions about how children should be assessed and how data on children should be used.
Further research is needed to track changes in state policies over time.