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PRESS RELEASE

December 8, 2006

Cathy Schroeder
(850) 245-0413

Commissioner Winn Announces Kindergarten Readiness Results
Greatest percentage of students demonstrating early literacy skills ever

TALLAHASSEE — Education Commissioner John L. Winn today announced the results of the 2006 Florida Kindergarten Readiness Screener (FLKRS). This year, there is an increase in the percentage of students demonstrating early literacy skills. The screening results are used to determine the school readiness of students entering kindergarten, inform classroom instruction and provide useful information to parents and teachers. Data from the readiness screening will also be used to calculate the readiness rate for private and public providers participating in Florida's Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) Education Program. These data are anticipated to be released in February 2007.

"The progress we have seen this year in reading literacy readiness is encouraging," said Commissioner Winn. "We are analyzing the results to determine the direct impact of VPK on this increased readiness level."

Florida has implemented a statewide kindergarten screening for the past five years. The laws passed to implement Florida's VPK program required the Department of Education to select screening instruments that were aligned to the VPK Education Standards adopted by the State Board of Education. The FLKRS replaced the School Readiness Uniform Screening System (SRUSS) which previously was given to determine the readiness of students entering kindergarten.

The FLKRS measures VPK outcomes, that is, what students should know and be able to do by the end of the VPK program as defined by the VPK Education Standards. The VPK standards address the areas of physical health, approaches to learning, social and emotional development, language and communication, emergent literacy, cognitive development and general knowledge, and motor development.

The FLKRS screening instrument includes selected measures from the Early Childhood Observation System™ (ECHOS™) and the first two measures of the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills™ (DIBELS™) for kindergarten. Specifically, the DIBELS measures are Letter Naming Fluency (LNF) and Initial Sound Fluency (ISF) to gather information on a child's development in emergent literacy.

DIBELS™ Results

The DIBELS™ are a set of standardized, individually administered measures of early literacy development. They are designed to be short (one minute) fluency measures used to regularly monitor the development of pre-reading and early reading skills. Letter Naming Fluency measures a student's proficiency in naming uppercase and lowercase letters. Students are presented with a page containing letters in random order and are asked to name as many letters as possible within one minute. Students who name less than one or no letters are High Risk; students who name two to seven letters are considered Moderate Risk; students who name eight to 16 letters are considered Low Risk; and students who name 17 or more are considered Above Average.

Initial Sound Fluency measures a student's ability to recognize the beginning sound(s) in a spoken word. Students are shown pictures of objects and asked to identify the picture that begins with the sound presented by the examiner. Students are also asked to produce the beginning sound for an orally presented word that matches one of the pictures. Students are shown 16 pictures and allowed five seconds to provide a correct response. Students who respond correctly less than three or not at all are High Risk; students who respond correctly four to seven times are Moderate Risk; students who respond correctly eight to 11 times are Low Risk; and students who respond correctly 12 or more times are Above Average. Above Average and Low Risk indicate full readiness for learning reading skills in kindergarten. Scores for both measures are reported in the following categories:

  • Above Average — the child's performance was at or above the 60th percentile;
  • Low Risk — the child's performance was at grade level;
  • Moderate Risk — the child's performance was moderately below grade level and additional intervention is needed; or
  • High Risk — the child's performance was seriously below grade level and substantial intervention is needed.

Of the 182,278 students screened in 2006 on LNF, two-thirds or 69.9 percent were Above Average/Low Risk — an increase of nearly six percent. The number of students considered Moderate/High Risk declined more than five percent to 30.40 percent statewide when compared to last year.

Letter Naming Fluency Status Summary

  2004 2005 2006

Total Participants

175,023

 

178,953

 

182,278

 

Above Average/Low Risk

111,100

63.48%

115,159

64.35%

126,861

69.60%

Moderate Risk/High Risk

63,923

36.52%

63,794

35.65%

55,417

30.40%

Of the 176,957 students screened in 2006 on ISF, more than half or 63.44 percent were Above Average/Low Risk — an increase of three percent compared to last year. The number of students considered Moderate/High Risk declined more than three percent to 36.57 percent statewide compared to last year.

Initial Sound Fluency Status Summary

  2004 2005 2006

Total Participants

174,913

 

172,901

 

176,957

 

Above Average/Low Risk

101,861

58.24%

104,003

60.15%

112,250

63.44%

Moderate Risk/High Risk

73,052

41.77%

68,898

39.85%

64,707

36.57%

The attached charts and maps compare the 2005-06 and 2006-07 DIBELS results. On LNF, there were increases in the number of students entering kindergarten "ready to learn" in 92.53 percent of the districts (62/67 school districts). On ISF, there were also increases in 82 percent of the districts (55/67). Fifty-five counties improved in knowing initial sounds and only 12 counties saw a decline. Five counties increased in knowing initial sounds by 11 percent or more. For letter recognition, nearly all or 62 counties improved and only five counties saw a decline. Six counties increased in letter recognition by 11 percent or more. Gulf, Baker and Lafayette Counties improved more than 11 percent on both measures.

ECHOS™ Results

The ECHOS™ is an observational instrument that can be administered through a combination of individual, small group and whole class activities. This allows the teacher flexibility to elicit behaviors in more than one instance or setting, so that a student's score is truly a reflection of the student's abilities and strengths. Scores are reported in the following readiness categories:

  • Consistently Demonstrating — the child demonstrated what he or she should know and be able to do at the beginning of kindergarten;
  • Emerging/Progressing — the child demonstrated some of the skills he or she needs to know or be able to do at the beginning of kindergarten; or
  • Not Yet Demonstrating — appropriate skill development was not yet demonstrated during the screening.

Of the 184,124 students screened by the ECHOS™ in 2006, 42 percent were Consistently Demonstrating, 44 percent were Emerging/Progressing, and 14 percent were Not Yet Demonstrating.

"We believe that these improvements are direct results of our collaborative efforts to raise the awareness across the state of the importance of these emergent literacy skills through our development of and training on the VPK standards and our online literacy course," said Office of Early Learning Executive Director Shan Goff. "Preschool instructors and parents should take full credit for these gains."