Whitesburg KY

State plan insulting to teachers, parents

Kentucky’s kindergarten teachers should be insulted and taxpayers should be angry.

That’s because the state plans to unleash a new readiness screener — checking adaptive, cognitive, communicative, motor and socialemotional skills — in the fall of 2013 for an estimated 53,000 students who will be entering kindergarten. The screening will take place no more than 15 calendar days prior to school starting and no later than the 30th instructional day of the kindergarten year.

A contract has been arranged between the Kentucky Department of Education and Curriculum Associates, LLC. The company will be paid nearly $475,000 — $8.95 per student — for its Brigance Kindergarten Screen materials the first year. Its cost will be reduced to $209,350 the following year — as if that’s supposed to make us feel better.

To put it bluntly, none of this is necessary.

Taxpayers are going to pay extra for something kindergarten teachers already do — and do well. Teachers have the ability and the knack for quickly identifying a student’s strengths and weaknesses on their own.

What teachers lack is the resources — books and classroom materials — that they could use to help a 5- or 6-year-old who is having a hard time reading or spelling.

Yet the state insists on tinkering with a child’s educational and social needs by calling this a screening process, when in reality it’s nothing more than a tracking system that has the potential to do more harm than good.

Certain “problem” students will be written off early on and not given the same opportunities as those who perform well in the screening.

Tracking ultimately creates negative labels that turn into stigmas as students move from grade to grade.

Each student should be given a chance to prove himself or herself academically and socially without the state interfering.

A child’s success will never be determined by screening and tracking them.

Success lies in the teachers, parents and most of all, the student.

Yet the state continues to tell teachers they can’t teach and waste money on useless programs.

Maybe we need to ask when will the state ever learn?

— Owensboro (Ky.) Messenger-Inquirer

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