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City Schools’ investments in early learning lead to gains in kindergarten readiness

Baltimore City Public Schools’ (City Schools) is outperforming Maryland overall in its rate of improvement in kindergarten readiness, according to the latest results from state education officials. District leaders attribute that success to the system’s investments in early learning.

The performance of students who took the state’s Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA) improved eight percentage points between the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school year. Nearly every student group measured by the assessment experienced an increase in performance, with several groups equaling the state’s performance in the same categories.

Nearly 65 percent of kindergarten students tested on the KRA in Baltimore City attended a City Schools pre-K or Judy Center program. Since 2017, the district has added a series of programs, with a focus on students in high-poverty households, as part of its Blueprint for Success strategic plan. Students in those programs participate in a series of activities and environments designed to build skills in literacy, language fluency, and other areas they will need to be successful.

The results show that pre-kindergarten students in Baltimore City are better prepared for kindergarten than at any time since the onset of the COVID pandemic in 2020. The positive results are an indication that pre-K-focused learning programs, along with the district’s COVID recovery plan, are paying dividends for students.

The Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA) is part of the broader Ready for Kindergarten (RK4) program in Maryland. The KRA is administered to all kindergarten students in the first semester of a school year. It allows teachers to measure each child's school readiness across multiple domains.


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Key takeaways include:

  • Locally, our Judy Centers and pre-kindergarten programs continue to be the top way to prepare students for kindergarten
  • We’re rapidly closing the gap with the state - The current KRA gap with the state is nine percentage points. Last year it was 15 percentage points.
  • Among KRA test takers, we have five student groups that either fully closed or narrowed the gap with the state since 2020, including:
    • African-American: student performance improvement was significant, with an 11-percentage point increase. That increase was more than double the percentage point growth of the state overall.
    • Hispanic students closed the gap with the state, growing five percentage points, greater than the state’s three- percentage point growth.
    • Economically-disadvantaged students earned a 10- percentage point increase, while Maryland’s increase was six percentage points.
    • English Learners earned a three-percentage point increase, while the state’s performance was flat.
    • The Students with Disabilities Group increased three-percentage points while the state’s outcome was flat.