I urge those in the education space or involved in education in anyway to take a look at this recently published study by Vanderbilt University that highlights the lack of sustainable gains made by a group of students attending Pre-Kindergarten (post their PK years).
While I am by no means an early childhood expert, I am fairly well versed in the substantial research that points to the importance of early childhood education and as such, would be ignorant to discredit its impact on a child’s development (i.e., I am a proponent of quality early childhood education).
With that said, simply ‘offering’ universal Pre-Kindergarten is not enough. Recently, phrases such as ‘universal preK’ and ‘early childhood’ have become such buzzwords in education and as a result, much to little discussion has been had on the issue around ‘quality,’ or on the issue of ‘what happens after these students leave preK.’
As this Vanderbilt study points out, students are entering kindergarten ‘kindergarten ready’ but are quickly seeing the gains that were demonstrated as the result of actually attending preK in the first place, diminish.
A focus on early childhood education is important don’t get me wrong. I would however love to see the discussion become richer in the sense of forcing us to understand the importance of exposing students to great educational experiences each and every year (not just in preK). Just as there is substantial research around the importance of preK/early childhood education, substantial research also exists highlighting the negative consequences a child suffers by having an ineffective teacher at any point.
In 2014, without including district Magnet schools, Dallas ISD’s college readiness rate was just under 9% as reported by the Dallas Morning news. A recent Dallas Morning News story posted this past weekend, stated that nearly 51 percent of kindergartners are on grade level. While both figures are obviously not comparing the same cohort of students, the point remains that if students enter the system ‘on-grade-level,’ then efforts need to be made to ensure academic gains are not lost along the way.
If our goal is to ensure ‘kindergarten readiness’ by providing quality early childhood educational outlets for students, than our goal should also be to ensure that the academic experiences of a student in their years post preK are QUALITY – preparing them to be successful in college, or in a career pathway of their choice.