Grading and Kindergarten

Do any quick research on the subject of grading in kindergarten and you’ll find lots of articles proclaiming kindergarten to be the new first grade.

The latest report comes from researchers for EdPolicyWorks, the center on education police and workforce competitiveness at the University of Virginia. Researchers there say the increased emphasis on accountability led to meaningful changes in the kindergarten experience. So what does that mean? The researchers say they are seeing a transformation at the kindergarten level to where academic skill-building has become the focal point in kindergarten classrooms. Researchers go on to say that this really wasn’t the case prior to the late 1990’s.

The study at the University of Virginia showed that in 1998, 31 percent of kindergarten teachers thought most children should learn to read while in kindergarten. By 2006, 65 percent of kindergarten teachers agreed with this idea.

For many parents, the kindergarten report card will be the first report card they receive as parents. Many might be surprised. Some kindergarten reports cards can be several pages long.

National standards for education can certainly impact how educators detail and report a child’s progress. In the past, kindergarten programs may have formatted report cards based on what was important to parents. Now report cards are often formatted to reflect how a child is performing according to state standards.

Ideally, reports would benefit the child, the educator and the parents. The grading process (when done correctly) lets parents and teachers know whether the child is grasping and understanding certain ideas and concepts. Reviewing the child’s work allows teachers the opportunity to see whether the child is ready to move on to other things or needs more time.

The grading process also helps teachers evaluate the kindergarten class as a whole. If the majority of the students are doing well, the class may be ready to move on to new topics. This also helps teachers understand and decide whether certain teaching methods and lesson plans are working.

Some parents will understandably be concerned if their child has a report card that contains a less-than-ideal grade. Parents should understand that poor grades in the early years of a child’s education can be the result of many factors. These can include a lack of interest in a particular subject or a style of teaching that the child does not fully comprehend. This is an important time for parents to use positive re-enforcement and not allow a child to get too discouraged because of a poor report card. The goal remains to have the child participate in a quality kindergarten program and continue to build learning skills.