SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Every two or four years, a study into kindergarteners’ readiness is conducted. The 2022 study, which was released today, showed that about a quarter of kindergarteners were not ready for school.

The study showed that 23.9% of children 5 and younger were not prepared for kindergarten when they entered. The teachers surveyed reported 42.8% of students were prepared and 32.5% were well prepared.

The 23.9% unreadiness rate is better than the rates for every year the study was conducted since 2010:

Not preparedPreparedWell PreparedNot Sure# of Students
202286 (23.9%)154 (42.8%)117 (32.5%)9 (0.8%)360
2018113 (26.0%)188 (43.2%)131 (30.1%)3 (0.7%)435
201677 (24.7%)145 (46.5%)86 (27.6%)4 (1.3%)312
201481 (28.5%)137 (48.2%)63 (22.2%)3 (1.1%)284
201078 (20.4%)173 (45.3%)120 (31.4%)11 (2.9%)382
200678 (24.7%)150 (47.5%)79 (25.0%)9 (2.8%)316

The study showed that there was not a significant difference between male and female students’ preparedness.

However, students who were eligible for the free or reduced lunch program were more often rated as less prepared for kindergarten than those who were not eligible: 36.6% to 13.5% respectively. Lunch program eligibility was used as a way to measure students’ socioeconomic status in the study.

This difference correlated with the rates for students who did not or did attend preschool. Of students who did not attend preschool, 53.8% were not ready for kindergarten and 20.4% of students who did attend preschool were not ready.

“One of the key overall findings is the importance of pre-k and early childhood programs,” said Springfield Councilman Matthew Simpson. “If you look at students that participated in those programs, they were significantly more ready for kindergarten than students who didn’t.”

“One of the major skills that they learn is how to be in a structured setting with other children and follow rules and listen to instructions,” said Dr. Melissa Duncan Fallone, who is the lead researcher.

Leaders with Springfield Public Schools said pre-k programs are available.

However, there is always room for expansion to allow more kids to have that opportunity.”With Springfield Public Schools, we have the Wonder Years program, which is a pre-K program for students going to kindergarten the following year,” said Christy Davis with Springfield Public Schools. “It’s a free program, which I think is a huge benefit to a lot of families. There would need to be some legislation that would pass to allow us to expand the funding for preschool services.”

According to the study, 80% of students who both attended preschool and were not eligible for free or reduced lunches were prepared for kindergarten. On the opposite end, 60% of students who were eligible for free and reduced lunches and did not attend preschool were not ready for kindergarten.

The study’s data comes from 360 surveys completed by Springfield Public Schools teachers. Each survey was specific to a random child in the teachers’ classes. Each teacher was asked to complete five surveys on five students