United Way releases Kindergarten Readiness study, measuring how Wabash Valley children are prepared for school

EDUCATION

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – The United Way of the Wabash Valley’s Success By 6 Impact Council today released its Kindergarten Readiness Report for the 2019-2020 school year, a comprehensive study conducted by the Success By 6 Impact Council across kindergarten classes in six local school corporations.

The report assesses the preparedness of the kindergarten students in the Wabash Valley upon entry to school. It found that children who participated in Pre-K offerings were far more ready for the challenges of kindergarten.

The mission of the United Way’s Success By 6 Impact Council is to prepare local children to enter
school ready to learn by supporting early childhood education in the community. The study is
intended to be a measurement tool for the Council to assess if the programs and initiatives being implemented are moving the needle on preparing children for school with high-quality early childhood education.

With measurable improvements in kindergarten readiness, the organization expects to advance its overall goal to move 10,000 families out of financial struggles and into stability. It is essential for children to begin school with a set of skills that provide a strong and lasting foundation for their education. When children begin school behind, it can lead to issues as they work to catch up with their classmates.

According to a 2015 study by the Bridgespan Group, children who start school on a firm footing have an 82% chance of mastering basic skills by age 11, compared to only 45% for children who lack adequate preparation.

Kindergarten classrooms across the Wabash Valley already perform a variety of industry accepted
assessments, but there was no consistent measurement being used which allowed for a communitywide picture of children’s preparedness for kindergarten. The Success By 6 Impact Council, composed of experts in the early childhood education field, combined these industry accepted readiness assessments to create a Kindergarten Readiness Checklist.

The Checklist included an assessment of 15 skills for teachers to complete based on their initial observation of children entering school.

The Success By 6 Kindergarten Readiness Checklist was completed using random sampling in 105 classrooms across Clay Community Schools, Marshall Community Unit Schools, the North Central Parke Community School Corporation, the South Vermillion Community School Corporation, the Southwest School Corporation, and the Vigo County School Corporation.

The results of the assessments were assembled with each of the 15 skill categories averaged. Those
numbers were then compiled and normalized on a 100-point scale for an overall “Kindergarten Readiness” score of 75. This 75 is a benchmark and a starting point for comparing future scores. This
assessment will be used to track a trend from year to year, and is not a grade, but a way that United
Way can demonstrate if their efforts, along with other community support programs, are making a
difference for the children in our community.

Natalie Pugh, Success By 6 co-chair and Director of Child Care Resource and Referral with CASY, explained, “Our Kindergarten Readiness Report provided insight into the benefits of early childhood education and high-quality pre-kindergarten. The checklist included information on if the child attended a pre-kindergarten program. This allowed us to see that those who did not attend a pre-kindergarten program scored an average overall score of 59, which is 16 points lower than the overall community score. This highlights the importance of pre-kindergarten and more importantly high-quality early childhood education which our council focuses on learning from birth-5.”

This is the first measurement report from any of the newly formed United Way Impact Councils. Richard Payonk, United Way’s Executive Director explained, “We are very proud of the Success By 6 Council for being the first to produce a report based on their community measurement. This report is only possible with the collaboration from school corporations, teachers, and our volunteers. The United Way is working to create long-term change and this report allows us to track the effectiveness of the work we are doing.”

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