Children starting kindergarten this fall will be watched closely by the state. 

First Lady Diana Rauner spoke at Wednesday's State Board of Education meeting about how the state will begin keeping data on kindergartners' development using the Kindergarten Individual Development Survey, or KIDS. According to ISBE, the new process measures language, literacy, math, social and emotional development, and skill-building competencies such as curiosity, creativity, and perseverance.

Rauner says the new standards could give a clearer picture on the learning level of kids with different levels of learning experience.

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"Children from low-income and disadvantaged backgrounds are entering kindergarten anywhere from 18 months to two years behind their more advantaged peers," she said. "Think about teaching in a classroom where 5-year old children have that range of developmental differences."

Rauner added that the new assessment will also help parents.

"This is an important way for parents to understand what it means for their child to be ready for school," she said.

ISBE has a website with information for teachers, administrators, and families at KIDS.

"Children begin developing critical competencies and skills in the first five years of life,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith. “KIDS will help schools, families, and communities to bridge learning and connect supports for children in their critical early years.”

The program was piloted in 2012 and begins this fall.

(Copyright WBGZ Radio / www.AltonDailyNews.com)