Despite working on alignment for the last two years, fewer children are entering pre-kindergarten ready to learn.
Data comes from the CLI's Engage platform, a free monitoring tool used by local school districts to assess progress on five domains of learning. Our indicator looks at pre-kindergarten students taking the English-language assessment during Wave 1, meaning the assessment is completed near the start of the school year. Currently the indicator only takes into account students in Waco ISD, but we will include data from La Vega ISD by the end of the year.
Factors that have contributed to improvement:
- (Most important) District and State-wide adoption of monitoring tools - This allows for school officials and community partners to understand how children in our community are entering school. We can also see the data by campus level allowing partners to target their efforts efficiently. The monitoring tools now being used include: CLI Engage, TX KEA, and iStation.
- Increased cross-sector community outreach by community partners - Partners have increased the number and quality of events in our community. The partnerships are giving parents more options to learn about early childhood education. We anticipate the number of partnership to continue to grow as communication between the partners also increases.
- Increased importance placed on professional development and certifications - Additional training opportunities were provided by local partners to bring in professional development for our early childhood educators.
- Identification of useful information to distribute, like the Parent Engagement app, DailyVROOM, help encourage parent-child interactions. Information will include notable milestones for children, encouraging parents to become brain builders, and parents as the child's first teacher.
- Home visiting programs have increased their capacity to serve families and have begun discussing how to most effective impact our community. Programs added additional parent educators that can assist additional families.
- Reduction in local resources has left families without a trust source of information in our community. This is, in part, due to the economic depression experience 3 to 4 year ago. The Texas Legislature also plays a role because they have deemed education is not a priority and pulled back on potential funding streams once relied upon by partners.
- Quality childcare is still hard to find and often not affordable.
- There are long waiting lists at several centers in town; other centers have closed their doors.
- This is also leading to increases in adverse childhood experiences.
- Limited professional development training available.
- The term early childhood educator is more of a blanket term without any type of certification or qualifications attached.
- Those that are trained, do not stay on the job long. Our community suffers from high teacher turnover and a loss of trained personal.
- The working group will soon move towards a measure of kindergarten readiness. This is because of recent data that stresses the importance of pre-kindergarten on kindergarten readiness.
- United Way has recently renewed their commitment to early childhood education.