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Citation:Carlton, M. P., & Winsler, A. (1999). School readiness: The need for a paradigm shift. School Psychology Review, 28, 338-352.

This paper presents a critical review of school readiness and the effectiveness of placement options currently available for children deemed to be unready. The authors propose that the majority perspective is that readiness problems reside solely with the child. They found that many readiness practices (e.g., transition classes and retention) led to little or no growth in academic skills. Authors classify readiness tests into two categories: those that measure milestones and those that measure knowledge. Common readiness tests are poor predictors of school success and tend to over-identify ethnic minority children and those from lower SES groups as unready. Practices of testing, delayed entry, and the manipulation of cutoff birthdates for school entry are creating an older and more able group of children in early grades, which leads teachers to focus upward in their curriculum planning and expect more from students even in kindergarten. Thus, existing practices are exclusionary, especially for those children who might benefit the most from such service, since those children who Òfit inÓ and who are not seen as likely to cause problems are permitted into kindergartens. Authors suggest a new framework to help reform practices. The proposed perspective is based upon sociocultural theory and contemporary developmental theory presenting readiness as a two-way process of both the school and the child adjusting to one another. Assessment resources should help determine where a child is in terms of skills to evaluate how best to help the child advance. Major changes required to implement this system include outreach to preschools, smaller class sizes, comprehensive and dynamic assessment practices, increased teacher training, and emphasis on parent involvement. Practitioners and administrators may use the paper to guide decisions about the use of assessments and identification of readiness factors. While the authors provide a compelling new framework, efficacy of suggested practices has not been tested.

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