Understanding kindergarten readiness

Year of publication


Publication link



Elementary School Journal

APA citation

Whyte, K. L. & Coburn, C. (2022) Understanding kindergarten readiness. Elementary School Journal, 123(2). https://doi.org/10.1086/721773


In this study, we aimed to understand what readiness meant to educators in two districts that were in the midst of developing pre-K–3 initiatives. We examined how readiness was conceptualized by teachers, school leaders, and district leaders as well as what factors influenced their understandings. We found that educators in our study tended to locate readiness within individual children. Although educators did draw from common early childhood ideologies to describe how they understood readiness, district organizational structures and measurement tools also affected their understandings. As public pre-K continues to become part of K–12 systems and districts make choices about how to define readiness, we recommend districts inspect the different messages educators receive about readiness and then align their efforts to ensure their goals are met. We also suggest districts consider employing definitions of readiness that focus on ready schools rather than on unready children.