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Kindergarten readiness at issue within U-46


By Seth Hancock
  A majority of children within School District U-46’s boundaries are not ready to attend kindergarten according to recent state data.
  The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) released in the middle of August the 2017 data of the Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS) which it calls the “first-ever statewide snapshot of kindergarten readiness in Illinois.”
  The survey measured children on three categories: social and emotional development, language and literacy development and math.
  For U-46, only 10 percent of children were deemed ready to attend kindergarten in the 2017-18 school year over all three categories which was below the nearly quarter of children ready statewide. By category, 36 percent were ready under social and emotional development, 28 percent under language and literacy development and 16 percent under math.
  The ISBE describe KIDS as “an observational tool designed to help teachers, administrators, families and policymakers better understand the developmental readiness of children entering kindergarten.”
  This data comes on the heels of a full-day kindergarten presentation given by the U-46 administration to the Board of Education in late July. Although district officials were happy with most of the results, one stood out as a need for improvement from the year-end survey given to parents and teachers of kindergarten students during the 2017-18 year.
  From the parent survey under family engagement, only 18 percent of parents gave a positive review based on six questions putting U-46 in the bottom 20 percent in the nation. That number was an eight-point drop from last year’s numbers.
  “This is certainly an area that we’re going to continue to highlight this year and we’re going to focus,” said Brian Lindholm, professional development and project manager.
  Lindholm said that the questions set a high bar in that category. He cited one question being on how often parents visit their child’s school which has the only answers marked as positive were if a parent visits monthly, weekly or more.
  Board member Jeanette Ward asked if the district had any answers to what may be attributable to the drop from the previous year.
  Lindholm said: “I’m not sure we’ve got a great answer to that yet…. I think we need to look at it school by school and kind of figure out what may be happening there because that is a concern. We didn’t love where we scored in that area last year.”
  U-46 CEO Tony Sanders would like to compare the kindergarten survey to the 5Essentials Survey, given to parents of all grade levels, to see if this is a larger problem district-wide.
  Board member Veronica Noland asked if the poor responses were seen across the board from parents or if there were different results based on demographics like race and income-level.
  “Unfortunately it was kind of across the board,” Lindholm said.
  Peggy Ondera, director of early learning, said that more parents responded to the survey this year, 41 percent compared to 20.7 percent after the 2016-17 school year, which may also have an effect on that question.
  Board member Sue Kerr suggested the district offer feedback to the company that creates the survey that the questions for that category set too high of a bar, and board member Melissa Owens agreed. Kerr said she wouldn’t have had positive results had she taken the survey.
  Sanders said the district did offer feedback last year and Lindholm said the district can customize questions but they wouldn’t be able to compare U-46 to nationwide numbers.
  Other results from the parent survey showed 87 percent positive results under barriers to engagement (up two points from last year), 86 percent for school climate (up three points), 78 percent for school fit (up one point) and 71 percent for family support (down four points).
  The teacher survey showed that 87 percent of teachers were positive regarding teaching efficacy (up five points), 83 percent for school climate (up one point), 69 percent for faculty growth mindset (up five points), 60 percent for feedback and coaching (up two points) and 59 percent regarding professional learning (down one point).
  Also presented was data from the KIDS assessment which showed that 86 percent of students were at or above benchmarks under self-regulation, 88 percent under social and emotional development, 87 percent under language and literacy development and 90 percent under math by the end of last school year.
  Under the Differentiated Literacy Battery it showed 539 students were above, 927 at, 365 near and 706 below the benchmarks in 2017-18.

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