TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Only half of Florida’s kindergarteners were ready for school, when it comes to reading and math. That’s not a judgment, that’s based on scoring by the Florida Department of Education.

Using the Star Early Literacy assessment, Florida kindergarteners were required to complete a 15 to 20 minute assessment to see how ready for public school they were. The assessment is developed by Renaissance, the company that started the Accelerated Reader program in 1986. According to Renaissance, 40% of the U.S. uses their programs to test student preparedness.

 See where your school ranks by searching the database below.

By their own reckoning and test data, Florida reported only half of the state's kindergarteners were ready to engage in school.

In 2021, only 50% of kindergarteners passed the state's Kindergarten Readiness Screener. In 2020, 57% passed. The proportion of students ready for kindergarten varied by school system, county-by-county. Of the state's nearly 1830,000 kindergarteners, only 91,511 were able to score 500 or higher on the Star Early Literacy Assessment.

Florida has used the Star assessment since 2018. By law, the state requires all kindergarteners to complete the assessment within the first 30 days of the school year to see understand each child's learning needs, and have teachers plan lessons appropriately. The test uses 27 items language and number skills lessons, according to FLDOE. The state describes the assessment as somewhat of a game.

"It is in a game-like format, similar to apps children may use. The assessment is adaptive, meaning that questions get harder or easier based on how children respond," FLDOE said. "The computer “knows” which question to ask next based on a child’s previous response."

Testing must occur on a physical school campus. Should a student not come to campus to complete the test, they are marked with a "Refusal" note. According to FLDOE, students who are "retained," or held back do not take the test a second time. Readiness rates are "calculated based on first-time test takers."

Taking the test, students can score between 300 to 900. FLDOE requires a 500 or higher to pass. Across Florida, only 31 of the state's 67 school districts boasted a higher pass rate than the state average. Of those, only five counties had more than 60% of their kindergarteners pass the test. Only one was in the Tampa Bay area.

So, which counties were the best prepared, and which were not?

The student body with the best scores across Florida were in the Florida Virtual school program, which had a 92% pass rate. The lowest level learning outcomes were in Jefferson County, where the district's 26 students who took the test had a 19% pass rate. Only five students passed.

Here's how the counties in the Tampa Bay area performed.

CountyPercentage ReadyNumber of Students Ready
State of Florida50%91,511
(Source: Florida Department of Education)

In the Tampa Bay area, only three counties had more than 50% of students pass the kindergarten readiness tests. The 10-county average in the area was 48%.