More Healdsburg students ready for school but disparity remains between English, Spanish speaking students
Corazon Healdsburg Preschool Fair to take place Feb. 22 at 9:30 a.m. at Healdsburg Community Center.
Sixty-three percent of Healdsburg Unified School District students were “ready to go” to kindergarten in the 2019-20 school year, a big improvement for the school district, however, there is still a clear disparity in kindergarten readiness between English speaking and Spanish speaking students, according to a Road to Early Achievement and Development of Youth (READY) report that was presented to the Healdsburg Unified School District Board of Trustees at their most recent meeting.
To determine if a student is at the “ready to go” level, teachers use a Kindergarten Student Entrance Profile (KESP) assessment in the first four weeks of school. The assessment is a 12-item, observational tool that has six items around school knowledge and six around social and emotional readiness.
The six school knowledge readiness items are:
1) Recognizes own written name.
2) Expressive verbal abilities.
3) Understands numbers represent quantities.
4) Writes own name.
5) Recognizes colors.
6) Recognizes shapes.
The six social and emotional readiness items are:
1) Seeks adult help when appropriate.
2) Exhibits impulse control and self-regulation.
3) Engages in cooperative play with peers.
4) Maintains attention to tasks.
5) Enthusiastic and curious about school.
6) Persists with task after experiencing difficulty.
“The teachers observe their students in the first four weeks of school and they score them on these 12 items and they get categorized into one of four categories,” said Norine Doherty, manager for the READY program.
The four categories include: “Not yet ready;” “emerging ready;” “almost ready;” and “ready to go.”
According to KESP ratings data by home language, 33 Healdsburg English speaking students were ready to go, while 13 Spanish speaking students were ready.
“There is a big disparity between English and Spanish-speaking students,” Doherty said.
Healdsburg isn’t the only entity to see a disparity in readiness between their English and Spanish speaking students.
The READY program, through their KESP report, assessed 20% of all incoming kindergarteners in the 2019-20 school year county-wide and found that one out of four Spanish speaking students were classified as ready to go.
Nearly two out of four English speaking students were ready to go county-wide.
Home language and income also go hand in hand, in adding to the disparity seen at the county level.
According to the 2019-20 county wide survey data, “Children whose annual family income is $100,000 or more are over two times more likely to enter kindergarten ‘Ready to go’ when compared to children whose annual family income is $34,999 or less. Forty-three percent of English-speaking families earn $100,000 or more while only 4% of Spanish-speaking families earn the same.”
What other factors can impact school readiness?
Doherty said there are several different factors that can affect a child’s school readiness, from screen time to housing insecurity.
“There are lots of different factors that are associated with school readiness that are both a positive and a negative. Some of the negative risk factors in the first five years of life that are associated with lower school readiness scores include poverty, parental depression, single parenthood and housing insecurity,” Doherty explained.
Factors that positively influence kindergarten readiness include access to early learning, care and education and early learning activities like reading at home.
“The difference in these factors does show up in our students, especially with low-income students and students of color compared to their white peers coming from a middle or high-income family,” Doherty said.
Trustees asked if the READY program knows why there was a change in the Healdsburg numbers for kindergarten readiness and Doherty said they would have to do more data analysis in order to determine the reason.
“We have to do further analysis because there are so many factors,” Doherty said.
Moving forward to try to address the opportunity gap, the report went on to offer a few suggestions such as starting conversations with preschools about the transition from preschool to kindergarten and developing parent resource flyers.
Local nonprofit Corazón Healdsburg also hosts a preschool fair each year that aims to educate families with children ages 0 to 5 about local preschool options and early learning.
Last year the organization held a preschool fair and this year the fair takes place on Saturday, Feb. 22 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Healdsburg Community Center. There will be free books, backpacks and kids activities in English and Spanish.
When and where: Saturday, Feb. 22 at 9:30 a.m. at the community center, 1557 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg.