Kindergarten Success Creates School Success

building blocks

The 2023-2024 public school year is underway! Collier County Public School students returned to the classroom on August 10. For incoming kindergarteners, the Florida Department of Education (FL DOE) requires an assessment within the first 30 days of the school year to determine their ‘readiness’ to learn and thrive in the classroom. Kindergarten readiness is among Future Ready Collier’s core priorities to support, helping families find the resources they need for their children, and students of all ages to grow in their learning. However, how much understanding is there across the region of what kindergarten readiness means, and how important it is?

How is Kindergarten Readiness Measured?

As of the 2022-2023 school year, FL DOE uses the Florida Assessment of Student Thinking (FAST) Star Early Literacy tool. Results from FAST Star Early Literacy Assessment in Collier County in the fall of 2022 show that 50% of kindergarteners were found to be ready for kindergarten. Out of 3,085 students taking the test, 1,536 scored ready. Kindergarten readiness assessments check for children’s abilities in word knowledge and skills, comprehension strategies and constructing meaning, and numbers and operations. Tests are computer-based and age-appropriate.

Students who completed Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) tended to be more likely to rate as kindergarten ready (65% ready) than students who did not attend VPK (36% ready). VPK is a free program available to 4-year-olds in Florida, and has served more than 2.6 million children since it began in the 2005-2006 school year.

Early Learning is Important

Tracking early learning in a systematic way can be challenging, because there is no standardized program available within public education for children younger than 4 years, and because children of that age often receive their earliest exposure to words and numbers at home. The Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida works in Collier as well as Glades, Hendry, and Lee Counties to support early education providers and the families and caregivers who rely on them.

As Future Ready Collier has previously written about, early learning is important as the foundation of a student’s entire academic experience. The literacy skills that begin even before prekindergarten and kindergarten directly relate to elementary and middle school learning milestones, which in turn set a child up for a greater likelihood of success in high school.

On-Time School Registration and Readiness

Kindergarten readiness connects to another regular Future Ready Collier topic of conversation: on-time school registration. Because the state’s FAST Star Early Literacy tests are given in the first 30 days of the academic year, any days missed during those initial weeks could meaningfully influence a student’s results. Collier County Public Schools offer free online school registration for all students within the district. According to data published in Future Ready Collier’s 2021-2022 annual update, 87.49% of kindergarteners were registered in time for the first day of the school year. Every additional student who is in attendance on day one means greater access to specific learning opportunities, to broader academic development, and to help where needed.

Future Ready Collier is a collaborative impact network focused on enhancing students’ access to academic and developmental opportunities, and success throughout their learning years. Network members include education providers as well as related nonprofit and social service organizations, alongside members of the healthcare and business communities in the region. To learn more about how Future Ready Collier supports early education, please contact