- Associated Press - Friday, January 31, 2014

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A new report says about half of kindergartners in Kentucky aren’t prepared to master essential skills in school.

Media reported results of the assessment, which was released Thursday, found that 51 percent of those who started school in the fall of 2013 weren’t ready.

Kindergartners across the state were given the Brigance screener, which includes tasks such as reciting the alphabet and counting to 30.

Gov. Steve Beshear, who supports expanding early childhood education, said the results are disappointing but not surprising.

“From day one, these students may be at a disadvantage,” Beshear said in a statement. “Too often, they don’t catch up with their peers. As a result, these students may face years of poor grades and negative school experiences that usually only end when they drop out or graduate from high school unprepared for college or career.”

Education Commissioner Terry Holliday says the data can be used to help future students.

“This data will help us prevent and close achievement gaps before they become insurmountable,” he said.

Terry Brooks, director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, said he hopes schools don’t take the wrong attitude.

“We have to be careful that schools don’t take the attitude, ‘If these kids just came to us ready, we could do something with them,’” he said.

In Louisville, Engelhard Elementary School principal Teresa Meyer said many children arrive without enough exposure to reading, but teachers try to help them catch up.

“We find that about 70 percent of our children have never been read to by an adult. … Many have never even held a pencil before,” she said. “So what’s happening is we are teaching preschool curriculum plus the kindergarten curriculum … to have these students ready to move on.”