Digging Deeper: Half of Children are Falling Behind Before Kindergarten
Another year, another urgent message to be found in state-level data about kindergarten readiness. This year marks the second annual release of the Delaware Early Learning Survey (DE-ELS), which measures how well prepared preschoolers are for kindergarten. Kindergarten teachers observe and record their students to determine what they know and can do in areas such as math, language, literacy, and social and emotional development, to a name a few.
Much like last year, the 2017 DE-ELS shows that we still have a ton of work to do to ensure preschoolers are ready for the next level. We know that much of a child’s brain develops before they reach kindergarten, making preschool years the most essential time to build a child’s cognitive, social, and emotional intellect. But we don’t always think about how this critical time sets the stage for a child’s academic career and life success. Which is why this data paints a scary picture:
Between one-third and half of Delaware preschoolers are not prepared for kindergarten.
Most alarmingly, more than half of preschoolers aren’t ready for kindergarten-level math and just about half struggle with cognitive and social and emotional learning.
A student that struggles in early school years is not likely to be on a positive track later in their academic career. DE-ELS results offer a worrisome preview of what may be in store for students as they move into elementary, middle, and high school.
Delaware students’ academic performance data are an indicator of why we need strong investments in early learning.
Only half of students in third grade across Delaware are reading and doing math on grade level. As grade levels progress, we see less middle schoolers succeeding in math by eighth grade. Less than 30 percent of our high schoolers are ready for college level math, and only half are reading and writing on grade level in eighth grade.
We see the trend continuing as students graduate from high school. More than 40 percent of students graduating in the class of 2015 weren’t ready for college-level English or math, and were required to take remedial courses.
A successful academic career starts with robust, high-quality early learning programs.
Our earliest learners are being underserved, and it’s showing throughout their academic careers. What can we do about it?
- Join a Delaware Readiness Team. Families, early childhood providers, educators, and community leaders can make a difference and help children from birth to third grade build focused action plans.
- Advocate for expanding pre-k for four-year-olds. We know that investments in quality early learning benefit children and society. By ensuring at all children have fair access to pre-K programs, we all can reap those benefits.
- Increase quality across all early learning programs. Support high-quality early childhood programs by raising standards, increasing Stars quality levels, and requiring that programs receiving childcare subsidy reach a minimum level of quality.
To see last year’s survey, check out this brief on 2016 DE-ELS Key Findings.