Santa Rosa, CA – April 10, 2018 – Attendance at preschool, parental education levels, the language spoken at home are significant factors in Sonoma County children’s readiness for learning when they enter kindergarten, according to the 2017-18 survey overseen by the Road to Early Achievement and Development for Youth (READY) program.
Research shows that young children’s readiness for school is significant because the transition to kindergarten lays the foundation for future academic outcomes. Preparing children in all areas of school readiness contributes to long-term success in school.
Of the 1,647 children in this year's study,only two of five local kindergarteners started school with the social, developmental and academic skills needed for readiness, a finding that has remained consistent for three years. While 44% of children from English-speaking households did meet the kindergarten readiness measure, only 29% of children from Spanish-speaking households met the criteria. However, over the past two years, the number of children from Spanish-speaking homes ready to enter kindergarten increased by six percentage points.
"This year's findings indicate that the racial disparity in kindergarten readiness is decreasing," said Angie Dillon-Shore, Director of First 5. "But it's not time to celebrate yet. There is still work to do to ensure that every child in our communities has access to rich early learning opportunities."
“As a mother of two young children, I know the value of early learning opportunities,” says Fifth District County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, a member of the First Five Commission. “I hope we can increase access to quality early educational programs, especially for our low income and Latino families.”
Local outcomes and readiness factors are similar to findings in national research about school readiness. The Sonoma County program is funded by First 5 Sonoma County and managed by the Sonoma County Human Services Department Upstream Investments Initiative.
READY’s annual survey, the Kindergarten Student Entrance Profile, found that the language spoken and the frequency of reading to children at home made for differences in school readiness. The Profile is a universal screening measure used to assess children’s readiness for school.
Attendance at preschool or transitional kindergarten significantly helped children get ready to perform well at school. Transitional kindergarten programs enroll children who have their fifth birthday between September 2 and December 2, so are only four when the kindergarten semester begins.
Of the children in the survey, 85% had been in preschool, transitional kindergarten and/or licensed home-based childcare before entering kindergarten. Children that attended an early learning program were twice as likely to meet readiness standards when starting kindergarten. The 19% increase in the readiness of Spanish-speaking children could be linked with the rise in their attendance at early learning programs than three years ago (from 64% in 2015 to 76% in 2017).
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.
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.
The 2017-18 study assessed 1,647 kindergarten students in partnership with 10 Sonoma County school districts and more than 88 kindergarten teachers. An additional parent survey also gathered information on the early learning experiences of 1,080 of these children.