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Dayton children less ready for kindergarten, new report shows

March 5, 2018
Jeremy P. Kelley

Despite efforts to improve early childhood education offerings, only 34.9 percent of children who took the state’s Kindergarten Readiness Assessment in Montgomery County school districts in 2016-17 demonstrated readiness, according to Learn to Earn Dayton.

Perhaps more troubling, that rate declined from 37.7 percent the previous year, and declined in 12 of the 16 school districts’ regions. Data is not yet available on student readiness scores for 2017-18.

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“Despite all of the great projects we’ve put together, one of our challenges as we continue to track our data, is we’re not yet seeing movement in our countywide average achievement scores the way we would like,” said Robyn Lightcap, executive director of Learn to Earn Dayton.

At the annual countywide Kindergarten Readiness Summit on Friday, more than 500 educators, politicians and parents reviewed data and heard presentations on curriculum, equity and other issues. As the first measure a school district gets, kindergarten readiness depends largely on the efforts of families, preschools and child care centers. Many studies suggest that students who are more ready for kindergarten have better long-term school success.

Kindergarten readiness percentages for 2016-17 ranged from 57 percent among Miamisburg and Centerville kindergarteners to 3 percent in Jefferson Twp., and 17 percent in Trotwood.

“Our elementary-level people, from the top down, do a nice job of working with our preschools – setting expectations on what they can do to get kids ready for kindergarten,” Miamisburg Superintendent David Vail said. He said the integrated approach also involves library summer reading programs and other community efforts.

Centerville saw a huge surge from a roughly average 40 percent readiness the previous two years to 56.7 percent in 2016-17. District officials said they weren’t aware of any systemic changes that year that would account for the change.

Amy Allen, principal of Centerville’s Primary Village South school, said collaboration between the school district and early childhood providers is a key there as well, along with training on teaching methods. She said kindergarten teachers share specific strategies with preschool staff on what helps kids make the transition. Centerville also has a six-week summer program available to students about to start kindergarten.

But none of the other school districts in the county saw their kindergarten student readiness increase by more than 1 percentage point. And five districts saw kindergarten readiness drop by 10 percentage points for 2016-17.