Santa Rosa, CA – May 9, 2019 – Attendance at preschool, parental income and education levels and the
language spoken at home affect Sonoma County children’s readiness for learning
when they enter kindergarten, according to the 2018-19 survey by the
Road to Early Achievement and Development for Youth (READY) program. Of the 1,505 children in this year's study, seven out of 10
local kindergartners were ready or almost ready to start school. They had the
social, developmental and academic skills needed for readiness.
READY’s annual survey
uses the Kindergarten Student Entrance Profile, a
universal screening measure used to assess children’s readiness for school. Sonoma County outcomes
and top ranking factors in readiness are similar to those found in national
school readiness research.
While this is good news about a majority of Sonoma
County children, those that enter kindergarten unprepared often fall behind at
school as they progress through the grades. Research
shows that successful entry into
kindergarten lays the foundation for long-term school success.
“What we think of as an ‘achievement gap’ is actually often
an opportunity gap,” says Executive Director of First 5 Sonoma County Angie
Dillon-Shore. “Children who have greater opportunities that support optimal
cognitive and social emotional development
from birth are far more likely to be ready to succeed when they start
Both positive and negative factors affect children’s school
readiness. “Supports for school readiness include quality early learning
programs, rich interactions with parents and caregivers, lessons in literacy
and language development at home and in the community, and having all their
basic human needs, such as food and medical care, met. There’s work to do to
ensure that every Sonoma County child has all of these opportunities so they
can succeed in school and in life,” adds Dillon-Shore. The READY report for
2018-19 is available online at upstreaminvestments.org/Learn/Reports-and-Publications/.
Research also shows the positive effects that
families, schools, early learning environments and the community support has in
children’s school success. Without those supports, a large achievement gap
appears between low-income minority children and children from moderate- to
The difference in readiness made by the language spoken at
home was shown in this year’s study. It
found that top readiness criteria were met by 39% of children from
English-speaking households and 25% of children from Spanish-speaking
households. Last year, 44% of children from English-speaking households and 29%
of children from Spanish-speaking households met top readiness criteria.
“The study suggests that
more programs for Spanish-speaking families that include activities involving
reading, storytelling and music would make a positive impact on local children.
In addition, both children and parents would benefit if the adults had more
access to quality educational opportunities throughout their lives,” says Human Services Department Assistant Director
Research shows that positive factors affecting readiness
include quality early care and education, and early literacy activities, such
as frequent reading at home, especially among low-income children whose first
language is not English.
Attendance at preschool
or transitional kindergarten helped children get ready to perform well at
the children in the READY survey, 87% had been in preschool, transitional
kindergarten and/or licensed home-based childcare before entering kindergarten.
Children that attended one of these early learning programs were twice as
likely to meet readiness standards when starting kindergarten. Transitional
kindergarten programs enroll children who have their fifth birthday between September
2 and December 2, so the children are age four when the kindergarten semester
The effect of family income on readiness was also important.
Children whose annual family income was $100,000 or more were more than two
times more likely to enter kindergarten with the skills needed when compared to
children whose annual family income is $34,999 or less. In addition, 43% of
English-speaking families earn $100,000 or more while only 4% of
Spanish-speaking families earn the same.
The READY program is funded by First 5
Sonoma County and managed by the Sonoma County Human Services Department
Upstream Investments Initiative. The 2018-19 study assessed 1,505 kindergarten
students in partnership with 10 Sonoma County school districts and more than 78
kindergarten teachers. An additional parent survey also gathered information on
the early learning experiences of 970 of these children. Since 2013, the READY project has conducted
research to support the pilot and adoption of a common kindergarten readiness
assessment throughout Sonoma County school districts.