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Report: Only half of Onondaga County kids ready for kindergarten

Katie Keier
A new report finds only half of Onondaga County children are ready for kindergarten.

Only half of the children in Onondaga County are ready to start their primary school educations when they reach kindergarten, a new report from the Onondaga Citizens League has found.

The report, the latest from OCL in annual studies looking at community issues, says more focus needs to be put on educating children before they reach a classroom.

There are 27,000 children under the age of five in the county. They'll go to 18 different school districts.

The report looked at results of a test that 14 of those districts use to test kindergartener's preparedness for education. On average, just 58 percent of kids passed it. The report authors admit they didn't have much data to work with.

While New York state will spend $340 million this year expanding universal pre-kindergarten programs, report co-author Laurie Black says that's not soon enough. The community needs to start before kids turn four.

"Because that’s the period of time that we really need to focus in on and make sure we’re doing a good job to get them to the four-year-old programs to be successful," she said. "It’s all about the foundation that starts at zero that we build on."

It's a community-wide effort to get more kids ready, Black said.

"Parents are a key piece of this; the health community is a key piece of this. So there’s a lot of parts of the system from zero to three that we can better coordinate and organize," she said.

The report recommends a creating a better community-wide definition of school readiness; asses gaps in current services and programs; and come up with better metrics to measure readiness by.