high-quality preschools addressing this problem
and with what impact on future success?
can’t Johnny read?” is a question that has echoed
for years down every school corridor, down every
legislative hall, and in every courtroom. Fingers
have been pointed in all directions, and everything
from remediation to desegregation has been tried
to teach Johnny to read, but the question remains
a reading specialist working with struggling readers
at the third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade levels,
I find myself in more of a reactionary position,
addressing not only educational weaknesses but also
the students’ frail socioemotional states. Over
the years, I’ve noticed that a kindergartner’s literacy
ability closely correlated to how successfully he
or she performed later in the upper grades. This
correlation ignited my interest in addressing this
problem initially with questions such as Why weren’t
these children successful in kindergarten? and Why
weren’t they prepared for kindergarten?
Martinez, a kindergarten teacher and TNLI DE fellow,
and I collaborated in gathering data and resource
materials. We created a kindergarten teacher survey;
studied her class assessment; joined our district’s
new Christina Early Childhood Committee; and attended
a presentation, “Building Bridges—Zero to Six.”
I also interviewed a variety of people throughout
Delaware concerning preschool policy and programs,
such as those involved with Delaware’s Early Childhood
Assistance Program (ECAP). “The Delaware Early Childhood
Longitudinal Study” (2002) reported interesting
results using Delaware State Testing Program (DSTP)
scores for the same children taking the reading
test in third grade and later in fifth grade. The
at-risk children who earlier attended ECAP or Head
Start outscored at-risk children who did not attend
those programs by 20% in third grade and 39% by
fifth grade. By fifth grade, the ECAP/Head Start
students had nearly caught up to the total population
taking the DSTP, and this trend tends to continue.
At the same time, the at-risk students who did not
attend ECAP/Head Start programs continued to fall
further behind, leading to increased retention and
dropout. From all that I have read, heard, and learned,
a high-quality preschool could better prepare four-year-olds
for kindergarten and, consequently, help them be
successful in the future.
Since research shows that high-quality preschool
benefits all children, we should take the following
- Lobby for policy and legislation that supports
high-quality preschool programs.
for policy and legislation that supports universal
communication between preschool and kindergarten
teachers and administrators.
full-day kindergarten for the children who score
low in literacy benchmark skills.
partnerships between teachers and parents, e.g.,
outreach to private preschools.
a consistent curriculum for preschools to follow.