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KIDS in Ladd

LADD — The Ladd Community School District is one of 64 school districts in Illinois selected for a pilot program to evaluate kindergarten students for school readiness.

On March 4, Illinois Superintendent of Education Christopher Koch announced the school districts selected for the statewide Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS) pilot project. The goal of the program is to measure kindergartners’ skills and knowledge levels in order to help inform educators about the learning and development needs of their students, he said.

“Students enter kindergarten with varying ability levels and needs,” Koch said. “KIDS will provide useful, age-appropriate information that will serve as a baseline for measuring students’ development and progress throughout their schooling. Ultimately, we hope KIDS can be another tool to ensure our youngest learners are getting the support and resources necessary to thrive and succeed.”

On Wednesday, Ladd Superintendent Michelle Zeko said she first heard about the KIDS pilot program while at a conference and attended a session on the new program. When she learned the nearest pilot school at that time was in Peoria, she told the KIDS representative that the Bureau County area had a lot of school districts, and it would be great to have a pilot program in this area. When asked if Ladd would be willing to become a part of the pilot program, Zeko said she was excited with the opportunity.

Since that time, Ladd has already started the KIDS program, with Ladd’s principal and kindergarten teacher receiving the necessary training. What she likes about the program is that it looks at the whole child and is observation-based, rather than test-based, Zeko said.

The KIDS process involves observing kindergarten students over time, within the context of typical activities, such as English language development, self and social development, self-regulation, language and literacy development, and mathematical development.

Zeko said teachers assess each child individually in an ongoing process at least three times a year and develop a portfolio for each child. Since each child comes to kindergarten from a different background, it’s important to look at the children individually in order to maximize their progress and growth, she said.

Since the KIDS program will be implemented statewide in the future, it’s nice for Ladd to be in the development of the program, Zeko said.

As announced by Koch, the voluntary KIDS pilot program will run in phases before it is implemented statewide in 2015-16.

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