The following is a testimony given by Genevieve Demos Kelley at the Maryland House of Delegates Ways and Means Committee Public Hearing on February 18th, 2016, in support of House Bill 657, a bill that would limit the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment to a random sample of students. The views expressed are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak in support of HB 657. I am a mother of two boys: a seven-year-old in the Prince George’s County school system and a four-year-old who is still in preschool.
My older son started kindergarten in the fall of 2013, one year before the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment was implemented statewide. I vividly remember the mix of anxiety and excitement that we both experienced as I took him to his classroom and then said goodbye. Of course I wanted him to learn to read and and to write, but most of all, I wanted him to learn to love learning, to learn to love school. And he did! He was fortunate to have a teacher who sparkled in the classroom. Her lessons were engaging, and she cared about her students. I was confident that my son was in good hands.
The next school year, as my son was adjusting to first grade, I kept hearing the same complaints from parents in my community whose kids had just entered kindergarten: Their children were underwhelmed, and they did not understand why the kindergarten teachers were so frequently absent.
Eventually, an article in the Washington Post and a quick google search led me to MSEA’s Report and Recommendations on the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment. I learned about the terrible disruption to the classroom that this new test was causing, as teachers were required to administer a one-on-one test to every child in their class. Hundreds of teachers had responded to MSEA’s survey, and I found pages and pages of heartbreaking comments from teachers — teachers who felt that they were no longer able to do their jobs effectively during the critical first few weeks of school.