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Kindergarten Ready

vision
status = better

We achieve our full potential.

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

56% 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: Children are born ready to learn. 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.

what the data tell us

More than half of Central Texas children were “school ready” according to Ready, Set, K!, a measure developed by the E3 Alliance with the help of experts from across the region. The percentage of children who are kindergarten ready increased from 51% in 2011 to 56% in 2012.

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

The link between school readiness and school achievement is well established. Gaps in children’s ability not only show up early, but they stay relatively constant after age eight. United Way for Greater Austin’s Success by Six program notes that poor school readiness is highly correlated with:

  • Poverty or low-income conditions
  • Disparities because of race, ethnicity or language
  • A mother’s low education level
  • Under- or unemployed parents and
  • Exposure to violence in the home or neighborhood

The E3 Alliance states that many of these same demographics are rapidly growing in Central Texas. Cutting edge neuroscience and economics research point to an effective solution to this growing problem indicate that high-quality, research-based, child and family-serving programs can effectively narrow or close the school readiness gap. An increasing number of child and family-serving programs are implementing a dual-generational approach to serving families that works to increase educational attainment levels of parents. This has positive benefits for both parent and child. Unfortunately, there are still few and scattered resources serving children ages zero to four years.

some local efforts to improve this indicator

  • United Way for Greater Austin’s Success by 6 initiative is a community collaborative of over 30 organizations working together to ensure that children enter kindergarten happy, healthy and prepared for school success. The Success by 6 Early Childhood Stakeholders group has produced a 2012-2015 School Readiness Action Plan for Austin/Travis County with specific strategies for improving school readiness.  Some progress has already been made in implementing the plan:
     
    • Child Inc. and various Travis County school districts (Austin ISD, Del Valle ISD, and Manor ISD) have launched a pilot program in 20 classrooms that will increase the number of three year olds enrolled in Headstart and will ensure that those children will be able to seamlessly enroll in preschool programs.

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    • Early Childhood Stakeholders were able to work with the City of Austin to restore $500,000 in funding for early care and education programs ($850,000 in funding had been lost since FY2011).

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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.

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  • Even though the State of Texas reduced state-funding for pre-k programs, Austin ISD has 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.

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  • The Austin/Travis County Ready by 21 Coalition highlights kindergarten readiness on their dashboard for children and youth.

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, 2010-2012

Children from non-low income families in Central Texas are much more likely to enter kindergarten school ready than their low income peers. From 2010-2012, 42% of low income children were school ready compared to 66% 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 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 Central Texas Children who are Kindergarten ready by gender

Boys in Central Texas are less likely to enter kindergarten school ready than girls. From 2010-2012, 43% of boys were school ready compared to 60% of girls.

graph showing percentage of Central Texas Children who are Kindergarten ready by gender

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 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. An exception to this is Caldwell County where, in 2009, mothers with no high school diploma accounted for more than a third of all mothers who gave birth.

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 slightly over time, there remain great disparities by race and ethnicity. In 2009, 57% of births to Hispanic mothers and 21% of births to African American mothers were to women with no high school diploma. Meanwhile, only 4% of births to White mothers or 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 2011 poverty rates for children under the age of five were at a six year high. Children under five in the City of Austin and Travis County are more likely to be in poverty than children under five across the country.

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.

» Neighborhood Concentrations of Economically Disadvantaged AISD Pre-K and Kinder Students

The map below shows neighborhoods where economically disadvantaged AISD pre-k and kinder students are concentrated. Economically disadvantaged pre-k and kinder students appear to be most heavily concentrated in North Austin near Research Boulevard, I-35, and U.S. 290.

Map showing Neighborhood Concentrations of Economically Disadvantaged AISD Pre-K & Kinder students

Definition: Neighborhood Concentrations of Economically Disadvantaged AISD Pre-K and Kinder Students During the 2011-2012 School Year

Data Source: Data was collected by the Austin Independent School District. The map was created by Children's Optimal Health.

Data Considerations: This map represents 5,928 economically disadvantaged survey respondents. Of all surveys completed by families of pre-k and kinder students, 75% represented economically disadvantaged students.

» Facts about Early Childhood Education in Austin/Travis County

  • Only one-third of Travis County school-based Pre-K programs are full-day.
  • 62% 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.
  • Approximately 250 families participate in two-generation education programs for vulnerable families.

Source: United Way for Greater Austin’s 2012-2015 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.

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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.

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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.

turning the curve

The Austin ISD Strategic Plan 2010-2015, the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan, the draft Travis County School Readiness Action Plan 2012-15, and E3 Alliance's Blueprint for Educational Change recommend increasing the capacity of and enrollment in early childhood education and pre-kindergarten programs.

The United Way Success by 6 2012-2015 School Readiness Action Plan for Austin/Travis County and E3 Alliance's Blueprint for Educational Change recommend launching promotional school readiness campaigns (with strategies such as educating parents about school readiness and expanding home visiting programs) and improving child care quality by increasing early childhood education program accreditation rates.