Kindergarten has long been a place where children with developmental delays meet other children, but a new study found that as more and more kids have access to a public school, the importance of the program has also diminished.
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that in 2014, about half of children in the U.S. attended a public elementary or middle school.
The rest of the children in these groups went to a private, religious school.
As the study notes, “many of the private, parochial schools that were in the top half of the rankings were among the poorest performing schools.”
In contrast, a 2014 study published in the American Journal of Public Mental Health found only 9 percent of children ages 3 to 5 with autism attended a school that meets the U-shaped standard of “high academic achievement, low behavioral problems, and no physical or mental disabilities.”
In a statement to ABC News, a spokesperson for the Department of Education said, “The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) supports the rigorous academic performance of all schools and supports the development of a national benchmark system that includes schools that are in compliance with federal requirements, and provide appropriate programs, materials, and supports.”
While the U, shaped by the Common Core standards, is a great starting point for learning, many states and districts are moving to develop their own standardized tests, with some even requiring parents to attend school to administer them.
As part of the rollout of the Common Score, a set of standardized tests for elementary and middle school students in the fall of 2020, the American Association of School Administrators (AAASA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) issued guidelines on how schools should assess students.
The AFT’s 2018 report, titled “Kindergarden as a Learning Environment,” recommends that parents of preschoolers be taught to “carefully plan their own activities, and work together to ensure that activities do not lead to disruptions in other school activities.”
In their 2017 report, the AAASA and AFT recommended that states use their own tests to measure the quality of a school’s “kindergartens.”
The guidelines call for “a systematic, objective evaluation of the quality and quantity of instruction, instruction, and services delivered at the school” to determine whether the school meets the Common Standards.
For parents of young children, that means a fair amount of work.
As ABC News’ David Givens reported in 2017, the AAFT and AFTS recommend “teaching a standardized test” for kindergarten to the first graders of each grade to “demonstrate how well they are progressing in school.”
However, there are many parents who are frustrated with the new approach, including those who have their own schools and who believe the Common Standard has not been met.
A report by the National Center for Policy Analysis, “What’s Working, and What’s Not,” found that only one in four parents surveyed were satisfied with the quality or quantity of the programs offered at their school.
“The bottom line is that, unless parents feel that they have a reasonable expectation that they are receiving a fair and equitable level of education, the parents are unlikely to feel that there is a clear pathway for them to enroll their child in the public school,” the report stated.
A spokeswoman for the Johns, Hopkins, Bloomberg School, told ABC News that the school was working to change its approach to address parents’ concerns.
“We have seen the impact of the implementation of the federal Common Standards in our schools, and we are working with our partners at the Department and the National Governors Association (NGA) to improve the quality, quantity and delivery of programs,” the school said in a statement.
“As the National Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (NPARCC) develops the Common Test, we are evaluating how we can enhance the NPARCC’s Common Score for elementary school students.”
The Common Score is the standardized testing that is used to determine how much a child should earn, how much they can take in and out of school, and what other tests are included in the school.
It was developed by the Department for the 21st Century Skills and Education (DCSE) in cooperation with the National Association of Head Start Administrators, the National Education Association, and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.
In the report, NPARPC and DCSE noted that the Common score “provides the first and most direct measure of student achievement” and said that the “value of the test is its ability to help parents understand what their children need in order to thrive in school and lead a productive and fulfilling life.”
The report also noted that, “the Common Score also has the potential to reduce barriers to participation in educational institutions and to promote greater equity in education outcomes for all children.”According