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Kindergarten Ready

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We achieve our full potential.

We have the education, skills and opportunities to achieve
our full potential and lead meaningful, joyful lives.

53% of Central Texas Children Enter Kindergarten School Ready

Indicator: Percentage of children entering kindergarten school ready

Goal: Increase the percentage of children entering kindergarten school ready

Target: 70% by 2015

Significance of Indicator: What takes place between birth and kindergarten greatly determines whether a child will enter school ready for success. Early gaps in competencies can lead to a wide range of problems that are significantly more difficult, as well as more expensive, to address later on. Researchers from the University of Chicago estimate that investments in early childhood education generate rates of return between 7 and 10 percent, returns that compare favorably to historical returns on equity.

what the data tell us

Slightly more than half of Central Texas children were “school ready” according to Ready, Set, K!, a measure developed by the E3Alliance with the help of experts from across the region. The percentage of children who are kindergarten ready did not change significantly from 2013 to 2014 and has remained relatively constant at about 50% since 2010. In 2014, 53% of Central Texas kindergartners were school ready.

Definition: Percent of children who were assessed school ready

Data Source: E3 Alliance

Data Considerations: This data is based on a sample of students from various Central Texas school districts. There are variations in the sample size and in districts represented in the data sample across years. This data was collected during assessments done over kindergarteners’ first six to nine weeks of school. Children were assessed across four domains of child development: social/emotional, language and communication, early literacy, and mathematics. The data is weighted to be representative of the Central Texas region. Changes from year to year may not be statistically significant.

the story behind the indicator

Just over half of children entering kindergarten ready for school were prepared in 2014. To track school readiness, E3 Alliance developed a measure known as Ready, Set K! that assesses students on their preparedness for kindergarten in four domains: social-emotional development, emerging literacy, language and communication, and math. Each year, kindergarten teachers in a sample of Central Texas classrooms assess the readiness of their new students. This indicator has remained relatively unchanged since the E3 Alliance began collecting data in 2010.

School readiness has a lasting effect throughout a child’s lifetime, influencing later academic success. The programs available to children impact their ability to begin kindergarten prepared to succeed. In their 2014 study, E3 found that 55% of students who attended a pre-kindergarten program were school ready, compared to 42% of students who did not attend one of these programs. In 2013, 77% of eligible 4-year olds in Central Texas enrolled in public pre-kindergarten. E3 has set a community goal of ensuring all eligible children enroll in a pre-k program by 2020. Students living in families with low-incomes are also less likely to enter school prepared. In 2013, 21% of children under 5 lived in families with incomes below the poverty level, down from a recessionary high of 28% in 2010.

some local efforts to improve this indicator

  • Over 30 organizations, led by United Way for Greater Austin’s Success by 6 initiative, created the School Readiness Action Plan to collectively impact school readiness. Originally crafted in 2012, in early 2015, the group released an updated plan for 2015 through 2018. Goals for the plan include supporting families to help them support their children, increasing access to high quality early education and care, promoting preventive health and mental health services, and fostering public and private partnerships to promote school readiness. In 2015, stakeholders released a 3-year update, highlighting progress has already been made in implementing the original plan, including:
     
    • A number of new programs and resources have been developed to meet the needs of families. School readiness information has been distributed to thousands of parents in a variety of formats in both English and Spanish. The Literacy Coalition of Central Texas introduced Play and Learning Strategies, a parenting education program for clients receiving literacy instruction. Play To Learn, a parent coaching model developed by United Way for Greater Austin, is being utilized by several agencies.

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    • A number of programs expanded or shifted resources to help serve more children, including Child, Inc., Workforce Solutions, and the Austin Public Library.

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    • A number of partnerships have formed to coordinate services. Eleven agencies formed the Ready Families Collaborative to coordinate services. United Way for Greater Austin and the Dell Children’s Hospital have partnered to better connect pediatric residents with family support programs. A new Travis County Children’s Mental Health Plan has aligned strategies with the School Readiness Action Plan.

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    • Both the City of Austin and Travis County have committed additional funding to serving young children and their families. Additionally, the Austin Children’s Shelter received a large grant to provide additional family support services.

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  • Improving school readiness is one of four goals of the E3 Alliance Blueprint for Educational Change. The Blueprint seeks to improve educational outcomes across the Central Texas region from pre-k through college with a collaborative process that engages parents, students, school personnel and members of the larger community. In addition to measuring success, the E3 Alliance has also developed a School Readiness Parent Guide to help parents prepare their children for school.

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  • The Austin Two Generation Advisory Council, co-facilitated by United Way for Greater Austin and the Ray Marshall Center, includes partners from across the community. They strive to connect high quality early childhood education with training opportunities for low-income parents. The Committee helped launch a pilot program with AISD at the Uphaus Early Childhood Center, and crafted a two-generation vision for Austin.

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  • During 2014, the City of Austin Public Engagement Office worked with a team of School Readiness Action Plan leaders to engage with parents throughout the community to learn more about their goals for their children, barriers to accessing early education services such child care and Head Start, and things that are working well with our learning system. The results from this effort were incorporated into the 2015-2018 School Readiness Action Plan that will be published in May of 2015. Results from the Parent Engagement Project can be found here.

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  • Although the state of Texas currently funds only half day pre-kindergarten, area school districts including Austin ISD have continued to offer a full-day pre-kindergarten program to students who have limited English proficiency, are economically disadvantaged, have an active duty military parent, or are homeless.

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  • Literacy Illuminates is a campaign to improve literacy rates in the Austin area. The campaign represents a partnership between the Austin Independent School District, the City of Austin, Travis County, and the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas.

a closer look at the story behind the indicator:

Click on one of the titles below for more information.

» % of Central Texas children entering kindergarten school ready by economic status

Children from non-low income families in Central Texas are much more likely to enter kindergarten school ready than their low income peers. In 2014, 42% of low income children were school ready, compared to 65% of non-low income children.

Definition: Percent of children who were assessed school ready by economic status

Data Source: E3 Alliance

Data Considerations: This data is based on a sample of students from various Central Texas school districts. There are variations in the sample size and in districts represented in the data sample across years. This data was collected during assessments done over kindergarteners’ first six to nine weeks of school. Children were assessed across four domains of child development: social/emotional, language and communication, early literacy, and mathematics. This data has been aggregated by E3 Alliance.

» % of Central Texas Children who are Kindergarten ready, by gender

Girls are more likely to be ready for kindergarten than boys in Central Texas. In 2014, 61% of girls were kindergarten ready, compared to 46% of boys.

Definition: Percent of children who were assessed school ready by gender

Data Source: E3 Alliance

Data Considerations: This data is based on a sample of students from various Central Texas school districts. There are variations in the sample size and in districts represented in the data sample across years. This data was collected during assessments done over kindergarteners’ first six to nine weeks of school. Children were assessed across four domains of child development: social/emotional, language and communication, early literacy, and mathematics. This data has been aggregated by E3 Alliance.

» % of Central Texas Children who are Kindergarten ready, by pre-kindergarten attendance

Children who attended a pre-kindergarten program were more likely to enter school ready for kindergarten than children who did not attend. In 2013, 55% of children who attended pre-K were ready for school compared to 42% of children who did not attend pre-K.

Definition: Percent of children who were assessed school ready by pre-kindergarten attendance

Data Source: E3 Alliance

Data Considerations: This data is based on a sample of students from various Central Texas school districts. There are variations in the sample size and in districts represented in the data sample across years. This data was collected during assessments done over kindergarteners’ first six to nine weeks of school. Children were assessed across four domains of child development: social/emotional, language and communication, early literacy, and mathematics. This data has been aggregated by E3 Alliance.

» % of Central Texas Children Entering Kindergarten School Ready by Race & Ethnicity, 2010-2012

Asian and White children are much more likely to be school ready than Black and Hispanic children in Central Texas. From 2010-2012, 40% of Black children and 44% of Hispanic children were school ready compared to 64% of White children and 68% of Asian children.

Definition: Percent of children who were assessed school ready by race and ethnicity

Data Source: E3 Alliance

Data Considerations: This data is based on a sample of students from various Central Texas school districts. There are variations in the sample size and in districts represented in the data sample across years. This data was collected during assessments done over kindergarteners’ first six to nine weeks of school. Children were assessed across four domains of child development: social/emotional, language and communication, early literacy, and mathematics. This data has been aggregated by E3 Alliance.

» % of births to mothers with no high school diploma

For the most part, the percentage of births to mothers with no high school diploma has been slowly declining locally and statewide over the past five years, although Caldwell County experienced a jump in 2009. Disparities exist by metro area county. In Bastrop, Caldwell, and Travis Counties, the percent of births to mothers with no high school diploma is closer to the state share, whereas Hays and Williamson County see a lower percentage of births to mothers with no high school diploma.

Definition: Percent of births to mothers with no high school diploma, Texas residents

Data Source: Texas Department of State Health Services—Center for Health Statistics

Data Considerations: Birth data are derived from a subset of variables collected on the Texas Certificate of Live Birth. 

» % of births to mothers with no high school diploma by Race/Ethnicity in Travis County

While births to mothers with no high school diploma have declined over time, there remain great disparities by race and ethnicity. In 2012, 46% of births to Hispanic mothers and 17% of births to Black mothers were to women with no high school diploma. Meanwhile, only 3% of births to White mothers and 5% of births to mothers of other races were to women with no high school diploma.

Definition: Percent of births to mothers with no high school diploma, Texas residents, by mother’s race/ethnicity

Data Source: Texas Department of State Health Services—Center for Health Statistics

Data Considerations: Birth data are derived from a subset of variables collected on the Texas Certificate of Live Birth. 

» % of children under the age of 5 who are living in poverty

In 2013, 21% of children under the age of five in Travis County were living below the federal poverty level. This represents a decrease from a high of 28% from 2010 to 2011. Travis County has consistently had a lower under five poverty rate than the State of Texas, and in 2013, saw its under 5 poverty rate dip below that of the nation as a whole.

Definition: Percent of children under the age of five living below the federal poverty level for the past 12 months

Data Source: American Community Survey

Data Considerations: The American Community Survey samples 3% of the Nation’s population. Due to small sample sizes, margins of error are increased and hard to reach populations may not be accurately represented in the data.

» Facts about Early Childhood Education in Austin/Travis County

  • 55% of full-day early care and education centers meet quality standards as measured in a community accepted Quality Rating System
  • Three out of five lead teachers in full-day early care and education centers have less than an associate’s degree.
  • In 2014, 2,287 families received high-quality home visiting services—up from 1,691 in 2013.

Source: United Way for Greater Austin’s School Readiness Action Plan for Austin/Travis County

disproportionately impacted

  • Children who are Economically Disadvantaged — A recent report from the Brookings Institution highlights research findings from several studies which have demonstrated a connection between economic status and childhood development with economically disadvantaged children having less access to positive inputs and more to exposure negative contexts. Local data collected by the E3 Alliance finds the same disparity in readiness by income level.

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  • Children who did not Attend a Quality Pre-K Program — The Texas Education Agency has a Texas Kindergarten Readiness System which certifies pre-k programs that are successful in preparing children for school. Children who do not attend pre-k or attend uncertified programs may not receive the supports they need to prepare them for kindergarten. The E3 Alliance found that Kindergarten students who attended Pre-K were more likely to be ready for school.

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  • Children Born to Mothers with no High School Diploma — The National School Readiness Indicators Initiative reports that higher levels of maternal education are associated with better health among children and overall improved educational outcomes, including in the area of school readiness.