The mission of Pottstown’s school readiness initiative, PEAK (Pottstown Early Action for Kindergarten Readiness), is “Every Pottstown child will enter kindergarten ready to learn and achieve.” How are we doing in meeting that goal?
One indicator of readiness for school is the beginning of year assessment. Pottstown School District uses the DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators for Basic Early Learning Skills) in kindergarten through third grade as a measure of student skills and as a tool to individualize instruction.
In 2009, a group of students who had attended the community-based Pre-K Counts classes in Pottstown entered kindergarten. On their first kindergarten assessment, the Pre-K Counts students scored above the overall district average with 61% of Pre-K Counts students on target (or Benchmark) compared with the district average of 56% of kindergarten students beginning the year on target.
But what about this group of students as they began progressing through the elementary grades. Did they maintain their advantage over the district average?
In first grade the Pre-K Counts students were still ahead of the district average with 61% on target compared with 58%. The Pre-K Counts gains were sustained as the students entered second grade with 76% Benchmark versus the district average of 69% Benchmark.
And now the students are in third grade. Did the gains from high quality Pre-K fade away or did the gains remain?
On the 2013 third grade Beginning of Year DIBELS, the Pre-K students continued to be ahead of the district average. Seventy percent of students who participate in Pre-K Counts scored at “Benchmark” on their third grade assessment —17% higher than the district average of 60%.
Does high quality Pre-K make a long-term difference for children? The experience of Pottstown is showing that children who have quality early learning experiences not only enter kindergarten better prepared but sustain those gains in the subsequent elementary years.
Pottstown has shown a commitment to early education since 1989 by providing locally funded Pre-K classes. Pottstown has also led the way in in working with community based programs through the PEAK partnership which began in 2006 and the implementation of the state-funded Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts classes (2007). The work of the early learning professionals whether in the school district or community based settings is impacting children and families for positive change in the Pottstown community.
Want to know more about PEAK or Pre-K Counts? Contact the PEAK Coordinator, Mary Rieck, at 610-970-6655 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at www.peakonline.org. You can also connect with PEAK through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or by subscribing to a variety of newsletters on the website.