TAMPA, Fla. -- Half of kids entering kindergarten in Florida aren't prepared, the state says.

Less than 54-percent of students who took the Department of Education's readiness test in August 2017 passed. That's an 18-percent drop from the last kindergarten assessment in 2013 -- which was ditched for being too easy, according to WJXT.

But, some education advocates say that's not the reason. They claim the test isn't accurate because it's administered on a computer and 4 and 5-year-old kids might not know how to work a mouse or computer.

Children from low socioeconomic areas may be at a disadvantage because it could be the first time they've seen a computer. However, the state says before the test, children are taught how to use the computer and are given more help if they are still struggling during the exam.

Other critics say the test is focused on the wrong things -- not the social and language skills developed in pre-K programs. The exam measures three areas: word knowledge and skill, how well a child can comprehend full sentences and how well he or she can count and understand numbers.

Voluntary Prekindergarten Education programs could lose their state funding if less than 60-percent of their students pass.

If you're concerned with your children's preparedness, there are resources available to get them ready for their first day of school:

PRE-K PROGRAMS

Children who attend prekindergarten programs are 10-percent more likely to pass the exam. Florida's Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program (VPK) is free for all Florida residents. There are many programs a parents can choose from to best fit their schedule and where they live.

ONLINE PRESCHOOL

There are also online preschool programs you can enroll your child in before kindergarten. Some free websites and phone apps, like Disney Junior, offer learning games to keep your kids engaged. It will also teach them how to use a computer for when they take the exam.

LEARNING MILESTONES BEFORE KINDERGARTEN

  • Reading and writing: They can identify letters and simple words, sing the alphabet, write their name. They've started skills like categorizing and synonyms.
  • Numbers: They understand basic counting and numbers and can count objects
  • Behavior: They can sit quietly for thirty minutes, like they're in a classroom. They should know basic communication skills, such as sharing and being a good sport if they lose.

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