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One In Four Illinois Children Enter Kindergarten Fully Demonstrating Readiness

Kindergarten Individual Development Survey

New data show FIRST statewide snapshot of kindergarten readiness

One In Four Illinois Children Enter Kindergarten Fully Demonstrating Readiness


Released today, data from the Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS) will provide the first consistent picture across all Illinois school districts of the skills children have as they enter kindergarten.  Opportunity gaps emerge well before kindergarten, and KIDS will help educators, communities, families and policymakers to identify the learning supports children need not just during kindergarten, but in the years before.

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) began requiring all Illinois kindergarten teachers to use the tool in Fall 2017, after piloting the tool for five years in districts around the state. Within the first 40 days of school, teachers observe and collect data for 14 required measures as students go about their daily classroom routines.  Students “demonstrate kindergarten readiness” if they display the skills, knowledge and behavior needed for kindergarten level learning across three developmental areas—social and emotional development, language and literacy, and math.  Students displaying the skills, knowledge and behavior needed in less than three developmental areas “need additional support.”


While the benchmark year of data should be reviewed accordingly, this first year of statewide KIDS data reveals a wide range in the skills, knowledge and behavior of children entering kindergarten. In 2017, of the 106,670 kindergarten students in Illinois (81%) rated on the 14 required measures:


  • 24 percent demonstrated readiness in all three developmental areas
  • 18 percent reached readiness in two developmental areas
  • 17 percent reached readiness in one developmental area
  • 42 percent did not reach readiness in any developmental areas


  • 49 percent of students demonstrated readiness in social and emotional development
  • 44 percent of students demonstrated readiness in language and literacy
  • 30 percent of students demonstrated readiness in math


Black and Hispanic or Latino students in Illinois entered kindergarten with lower rates of readiness than their Asian and White peers:

  • 32% of Asian kindergarteners demonstrated readiness
  • 29% of Pacific Islander kindergarteners demonstrated readiness
  • 29% of White kindergarteners demonstrated readiness
  • 25% of Multi-race students demonstrated readiness
  • 21% of Native American students demonstrated readiness
  • 19% of Black students demonstrated readiness
  • 13% of Hispanic or Latino students demonstrated readiness


Students who receive additional support through other state and district programs, including Individual Education Plans (IEPs), free and reduced price meals, and identification as an English Learner, are entering kindergarten behind the state average.

  • 11% of kindergarteners with an IEP demonstrated readiness
  • 15% of kindergarteners identified as an English Learner (EL) demonstrated readiness
  • 16% of kindergarteners enrolled in free and reduced-price lunch, which requires low-income eligibility, demonstrated readiness


KIDS data highlights the importance of strong early childhood programs and the early grades in a child’s long-term success and represents a critical milestone toward understanding what we need to do to support students earlier in their learning journey.   Additionally, with this fall’s implementation of the new Every Student Succeeds Act, replacing No Child Left Behind, every district will need to define new practices for improving student outcomes across the entire educational continuum.


KIDS data will help public policy makers and advocates in assessing the need for additional early childhood funding and allocating resources; principals and administrators in improving curriculum and professional learning for teachers; teachers in informing instructional practice; early childhood providers in aligning programs to clear expectations around kindergarten readiness; and families in promoting more learning at home.


We are thrilled that years of collaboration between advocates, educators, ISBE, public policy makers, and researchers have culminated in the inaugural release of KIDS survey data which can be used to strengthen and connect the learning that happens in early childhood programs through transitions into kindergarten and the early elementary grades.


“Readiness Matters,” a statewide report provides additional information about the KIDS 2017 data.  Visit to learn more about KIDS.



The following organizations support the content of this statement.


“The timing of the KIDS data couldn’t be better.  The state has set ambitious goals for school districts as part of the new accountability system under Every Student Succeeds Act, which is rolling out this fall.  The new kindergarten readiness data is powerful information to guide district leaders’ strategies for meeting those goals.  And it is yet another reminder that investment in early childhood programs pay huge dividends in improved student outcomes.  In fact, reaching kids early will be essential for many districts to achieve the new state goals.”—Ginger Ostro

Executive Director

“This new data highlights the importance of whole communities coming together to ensure families have the support they need to help their children prepare for kindergarten, including quality child care and early education, health and mental health services, and basic services like libraries and safe parks. All of these contribute to kindergarten readiness.” – Maria Whelan, President and CEO


“Statewide KIDS data is an important milestone: a developmentally appropriate tool to promote early learning among all young children in Illinois.  KIDS provides professional development for kindergarten teachers, helps parents understand expectations for their children in kindergarten, and valid information for lawmakers to determine how resources should be directed to help level the playing field,” said Rauner. “We know that learning begins at birth, and high-quality programs make a difference—KIDS data will help all adults ensure that our youngest learners are ready to succeed in school.” –Diana Rauner, President
“Educational disparities have roots in the earliest years of life, and yet we don’t start gauging how well our children are doing in a uniform way until 3rd grade — that’s too late. KIDS provides the kind of definition Illinois needs to address those gaps in opportunity earlier, with greater precision, and more cost-effectively.”—Cornelia Grumman, Education Director

“All children deserve to have the same opportunity to grow and thrive, and the color of their skin or their socioeconomic status should not be a barrier. Although this report is a good first step at analyzing how Illinois’ young children are doing, it highlights a need to do more, especially for African American and Latino children who are being left behind.” – Verónica Cortez, Staff Attorney, Early Childhood



“For the first time, families, educators and policy makers have a clear picture of where students are throughout the state when they start kindergarten. Our job now is to dig into this information and understand what we can do to better prepare all children for success.  These early results suggest there is more and smarter work to be done and investments to be made.” Robin Steans   

“Research indicates that learning begins at birth, but until now, Illinois had to wait until third grade to get a statewide picture of how its children were doing.  With KIDS, Illinois now has a ‘kid friendly,’ developmentally appropriate assessment that will guide teachers, parents and elected officials in providing support and resources so that all children can learn and thrive.  The new data tells us that we have work to do on behalf of all young children, especially our African American and Latino children.” –Sara Slaughter, Executive Director






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