TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – It is essential for children to begin school with a set of skills that provide a strong and lasting foundation for their education, according to the United Way of the Wabash Valley’s Success By 6 Impact Council. When children begin school behind it can lead to issues as they work to catch up with their classmates.
So, are children in the Wabash Valley prepared to enter kindergarten? Recent data suggests readiness scores are trending up.
The Success By 6 Impact Council on Tuesday released its second annual Kindergarten Readiness Report showing a score of 78 on a 100-point scale. This compares to the first-year score of 75, and allows the Council to track the trend from year to year. The Council explained this score is not a grade, but a way that the United Way can demonstrate if its efforts, along with other community support programs, are making a difference for area children.
“Our Kindergarten Readiness Report provided insight into the benefits of early childhood education and high-quality pre-kindergarten experiences,” Natalie Pugh, Success By 6 co-chair and Director of Child Care Resource and Referral with CASY, said. “The data collected helped us identify that those children not attending a pre-K program scored an average of 65 while the overall community score was an average of 13 points higher. This highlights the importance of pre-kindergarten and more importantly high-quality early childhood education beginning at birth, which is why our council focuses on learning from birth to 5.”
According to the United Way, 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 community-wide 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, and was completed using random sampling in 96 classrooms across school corporations. Participating schools included: Clay Community Schools, Marshall Community Unit Schools, North Central Parke Community School Corporation, Saint Patrick School, South Vermillion Community School Corporation, Southwest School Corporation and Vigo County School Corporation.
“We are very proud of the Success By 6 Council for establishing this community-wide measurement and producing a second report to share with the community,” Richard Payonk, United Way’s Executive Director, said. “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.”