Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

A new study from Maryland reports marked increases in kindergarten readiness over the past decade, with more than four-fifths of children “fully ready” for school, up from fewer than a half in 2001-02.

The statewide Maryland Model for School Readiness (MMSR) assesses children’s school readiness in seven domains: language and literacy, mathematical thinking, physical development, scientific thinking, social and personal development, social studies, and the arts. The assessment, which was first implemented in the fall of 2001, measures whether children are fully ready, approaching readiness or developing readiness. It is administered to all kindergartners each November. Maryland plans to revise the assessment to align its indicators with the Common Core State Standards, according to Rolf Grafwallner, assistant state superintendent in the Division of Early Childhood Development of the Maryland State Department of Education.

Here are some highlights of “Getting Ready: The 2010-2011 Maryland School Readiness Report.”

Of the more than 62,700 children who entered kindergarten in Maryland in September 2010, 79% had attended a formal early education and care program the previous year. Children across the mixed-delivery system of private and public programs showed gains in school readiness.

Among children who had attended a Head Start program, 72% were fully school-ready, up from 43% a decade ago. Among children who attended private nursery schools, 92% were fully ready, up from 68% in 2001-02. So were 87% of those who had been enrolled in child care centers, 81% of children from public pre-kindergarten programs, and 77% of children from family child care providers – all up from roughly half in 2001-02.

“The MMSR is not just a tool to assess children’s skills and abilities,” the report states. “Kindergarten teachers use the findings to inform classroom instruction, provide appropriate support for individual students, and promote better communication with parents about children’s abilities. Local school systems use the findings to guide professional development for teachers, inform strategic planning, target resources, and successfully help children make the transition from early childhood to school.”