Using surveys, focus groups, and interviews of state-level administrators and policy makers in early childhood education agencies across the USA, this research explores how each state defines kindergarten readiness. Researchers identified nine themes of what contributes to the states’ definitions of kindergarten readiness and how pre-k literacy standards and other individual state mandates influence these definitions. In addition, the survey participants were asked about their perceptions and feasibility of having a universal definition of kindergarten readiness. Advantages and disadvantages of a common definition were discussed, including how a formal definition could affect equity in early childhood programs. The findings revealed a lack of consensus across the United States and suggested that a universal definition of kindergarten readiness may not yet be feasible due to local and state factors.
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