Who’s ready for kindergarten?

School by school, Hillsborough releases statistics on readiness
Chester Taylor Elementary School kindergartener Urijah Smiley, 5, used an iPad to access an reading application, Bookshelf, while practicing reading on Jan. 23, 2018, at the school in Zephyrhills. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times }
Chester Taylor Elementary School kindergartener Urijah Smiley, 5, used an iPad to access an reading application, Bookshelf, while practicing reading on Jan. 23, 2018, at the school in Zephyrhills. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times }
Published March 18
Updated March 18

Hillsborough County Superintendent Jeff Eakins is looking at preschool as a way to even the playing field as children move through the K-12 system.

But does the system have preschool deserts?

Eakins added about 400 preschool slots this year to elementary schools that had available space. Later in the month, he will meet with preschool providers to make sure they understand what children will need when they enter kindergarten. And he has asked for an inventory of early childhood centers in closest proximity to the 50 “Achievement” schools where test scores and reading levels are often too low.

Here’s what the district’s elementary schools look like in terms of kindergarten readiness, defined as having basic skills such as letter and number recognition, and familiarity with shapes and colors. The Tampa Bay Times added the column showing 2018 state grades.

You might notice that preschool readiness does not always correspond with the school grade. One reason for that: The state gives schools credit toward their grade if the students have made learning gains from one week to the next.

Districtwide, roughly half the students enter school kindergarten-ready. Eakins hopes to increase that to 80 percent, now true at only two schools.

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