Louisiana adopts new law for kindergarten assessment
6th July 2011 · 1 Comment
One of the most important laws adopted in the 2011 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature has been virtually unnoticed. House Bill 100 by Representative Steve Carter requires that every child entering kindergarten for the first time be given a “valid and reliable” readiness assessment. Results of the assessment will be used for measuring the student’s readiness for kindergarten and for planning instruction.
The school readiness assessment law follows a kindergarten readiness definition recommended by the State Superintendent of Education and approved by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in January 2011. The definition stipulates the minimum abilities and competencies that every Louisiana child should have before entering kindergarten. In January 2009, the Stakeholder Council of Education’s Next Horizon, in partnership with the Picard Center for Child Development and Lifelong Learning, recommended a similar definition of school readiness after studying other state models and surveying key stakeholders across the state.
The school readiness assessment law is a significant step. Unfortunately, the law will not be fully implemented immediately. Due to state revenue shortages, the State Department of Education had to propose a four-year phase-in of the assessment at a cost of $50,501 per year. These funds were taken from the already underfunded Literacy budget. In addition, the department had to scale back the assessment program by budgeting only 50% of the necessary assessment kits. This will require local school districts to share the kits between classes and schools.
Though clearly a step in the right direction, the phased implementation of the assessment underscores the critical need in Louisiana to make early learning a higher funding priority.
– Phyllis Landrieu
This letter to the editor originally published in the July 4, 2011 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.