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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
“Are we adequately preparing our children to enter school ready to learn, armed with the necessary skills needed to succeed?” The results of the Mayor’s Commission for Children’s 2016 kindergarten readiness study addresses this question.
The fall 2016 kindergarten readiness study reflects the social, emotional, and academic readiness of incoming kindergartners in three Greene County school districts – Fair Grove, Strafford and Springfield. It compares 2016 findings to the readiness baseline established in the initial 2006 study that involved nine area districts, as well as results from previous studies in 2010 and 2014.
The good news – after slipping in 2014, the numbers are moving back in the right direction. Aggregate results from all three districts indicate area readiness levels improved slightly from 2014 to 2016. About 24.7 percent of our local children continue to start school lacking the skills to succeed, down from 27.4 percent in 2014. More specifically, Springfield Public Schools improved from 28.5 percent in 2014 down to 24.7 percent in 2016. These changes are now measured over a two-year time frame compared to previous studies that measured changes every four years.
In 2014, Springfield’s The Every Child Promise initiative agreed to use the study’s results as its measure of success toward the goal of reducing the number of children not adequately prepared to start kindergarten. To monitor efforts and provide timely feedback to the community, ECP requested the study be repeated every two years for the next decade.
The 2016 study shows a small improvement in social and emotional (S&E) skill readiness indicating children are better prepared to share, take turns, follow instructions, control tempers and make friends. When children have higher S&E skills, classrooms become a more favorable learning environment. The entire early childhood community has worked to integrate S&E skill building exercises into preschool and daycare settings, programs and services, and educate parents about why these skills are important in preparing children to start school. Academic readiness scores were slightly higher than in 2014.
Results also support previous findings that girls are better prepared than boys, and children from lower socio-economic backgrounds (free/reduced lunch participation), as well as those who do not attend some type of quality pre-school experience, tend to be less prepared to start school.
A proven emerging trend after a decade of local study shows that when funding is available to implement targeted programs and services, there is a favorable difference in the number of children prepared for school. When funding lapses and resources go away, the number of children unprepared rises. Our community should take solace knowing funds spent on local school readiness efforts are truly impactful.
In today’s world, education is the great equalizer. Making sure children start school “ready to learn” is one of the most important gifts we can give our kids. Research shows that up to 50 percent of the deficit in school achievement scores can be attributed to gaps already evident at the time of kindergarten. Children who start school behind their peers tend to struggle, and many never catch up to their grade level throughout their educational experience.
The study was administered by Missouri State University’s Dixon Center for Research and Service and the Springfield Mayor’s Commission for Children. Study costs were covered by a private anonymous donation. Full results are available at redwagonkids.net.
For more information, please contact:
Denise Bredfeldt, Mayor’s Commission for Children: 417-864-1656
Dana Carroll, Every Child Promise: 417-888-2020
Kimberly Shinn-Brown, OACAC Head Start Director: 417-864-3435
Gerry Lee, Mayor’s Commission for Children, Board Chair: 417-766-2818
Dr. Melissa Fallone, MSU study author: 417-836-6528
For individual school district comments, please contact:
Mike Bell, Fair Grove District Superintendent: 417-759-2233
Missy Riley, Springfield Public Schools Early Childhood Director: 417-523-1300
John Collins, Strafford School District Superintendent: 417-736-7000