FL 2030 BenchmarksNews

Recently Released Kindergarten Readiness Numbers Show the Importance of Prioritizing Early Learning

By: Dave Sobush, CEcD, Director of Research, Florida Chamber Foundation

ORLANDO, FLA. – Dave during the 2023 Florida Transportation, Growth & Infrastructure Solution Summit.

Across the Sunshine State, end-of-school-year celebrations have largely concluded. For many families, their child’s K-12 experience reached a joyful end with commencement ceremonies. It’s an opportunity for families to not only to embrace the opportunities awaiting their graduate – whether that be post-secondary education, military service, or direct entry to the workforce – but also to reflect on and recall the very beginning of that journey: kindergarten. 


Ample evidence points to kindergarten readiness as a key predictor of future academic success, and that’s why the Florida 2030 Blueprint includes 100% kindergarten readiness for all of Florida’s children among its 39 goals. The latest figures released by the Florida Department of Education indicate that we’ve got some work to do to reach that goal.

Statewide, only 49% of Florida’s kindergarteners were deemed “Ready for Kindergarten” based on scores from the Florida Assessment of Student Learning (FAST) Star Early Literacy Assessment administered within the first 30 days of the 2022-2023 school year. While this new test was just rolled out this year, making direct comparisons tenuous, we note this is down slightly from 2021-2022, where 50% of kindergartners received a passing score on their assessment, and a continued drop from the 2020-2021 figure, which saw 57% receiving a passing score. Top performing counties across Florida were Hendry (66%), St. Johns (65%), Santa Rosa (62%), Seminole (61%), and Brevard (59%). 


One bright note is that these numbers show a pathway forward, evidenced by the connection between Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) completion (attended 70% or more of VPK program hours) and kindergarten readiness. Recently released figures show that 62% of VPK completers received a passing score vs. non-completers at 37% passing. This connection between VPK completion and kindergarten readiness exhibits a strong positive correlation, reinforcing the importance of early learning. Statewide, only 49.2% of students tested for kindergarten readiness were also VPK completers, suggesting greater utilization of VPK programming “as low-hanging fruit” for improving kindergarten readiness statewide.  


To find out how your county’s kindergartners performed, visit TheFloridaScorecard.org and to learn more about the importance of early childhood education and its connection to growing Florida’s economy to the 10th largest economy in the world by 2030, I invite you to take the following actions:


1) Learn about our Florida Business Alliance for Early Learning Project HERE>, and contact Zenani Johnson at zjohnson@flchamber.com to get involved with our efforts to improve kindergarten readiness in your county.

2) Join us for the conversations that matter to securing the future of Florida’s up-and-coming talent at our upcoming Florida Learners to Earners Workforce Solution Summit, June 27 in Tampa. 

If you have any questions or would like to learn more, please connect with me directly at dsobush@flchamber.com.

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