Early Learning Feedback Report

Published: 
July, 2017

Introduction

In Washington, we work together so that all children start life with a solid foundation for success, based on strong families and a world-class early learning system for all children prenatal through third grade. Children may enroll in kindergarten if they are at least five years old on August 31 of the upcoming school year. However, many children enter kindergarten without the foundational skills they need to be successful. National research suggests that children who start kindergarten behind their peers might never catch up. The achievement gap starts as an opportunity gap that is evident as early as nine months of age.

Children are the products of their families, their neighborhoods, communities, and the state systems that support them—all of which influence readiness. Early learning providers play a key role in supporting families with young children by creating intentional learning opportunities that build on children’s strengths and interests, while helping them gain the academic and social skills they will need to be successful in kindergarten and beyond. Early learning providers have established trusting relationships with families and have helped them understand their important role in supporting their children’s readiness for kindergarten.

Districts providing state-funded, full-day kindergarten are now required to implement the Washington Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS) process. The WaKIDS assessment takes a “whole-child” approach to assessing developmental and learning skills using a subset of GOLD®; an observational assessment tool that was developed for use in early learning settings. GOLD® measures skills and abilities in six domains: cognitive, physical, mathematics, social and emotional, literacy, and language. The results provide a statewide profile of children’s developmental readiness for kindergarten necessary to inform policy decisions at the community, district, and state levels.

As early learning providers review the data and reflect on their practices, they are encouraged to use this information and process to seek a deeper understanding of how children from their program did in the fall as they transitioned into kindergarten. By 2020, Washington’s goal is for 90 percent of all children to be demonstrating—in all six domains—the characteristics of a student who is ready for kindergarten. The Department of Early Learning’s ambitious goal of having 90 percent of children meeting or exceeding kindergarten readiness standards may feel overwhelming for parents and the early learning community that supports them. It is important to be thoughtful about the process and avoid emphasizing the target over the real goal: that every young child can meet their full potential.

In the same way that early learning providers will be using the information about kindergarten readiness to inform their practice, coaches and state agencies will be looking at this information to determine where improvements can be made to better support providers, families, and communities.

Protecting Student Privacy

In order to protect student privacy, aggregate data must sometimes be withheld or fuzzied when it could potentially be used to identify or derive information about individual children. Suppression is applied to all reports that display aggregated student information, though specific suppression rules will vary based on whether the table or chart includes WaKIDS assessment information about students. For these reports, suppression and fuzzing strategies have been used which allow the sharing of as much information as possible to ECEAP sites while still protecting student privacy as dictated by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

ECEAP sites with fewer than 10 children will not be reported in this dashaboard, except in statewide and contractor aggregate data. ECEAP sites (or groups of sites) with 10 or more children will receive a report that contains WaKIDS assessment results, but results may be suppressed or fuzzied if the denominator of the measure is small (less than 10). This is done by reporting a percent range, which is based on the size of the denominator used to calculate the percentages for each item in each table.

Cohort and comparison groups

Kindergarten students were included in the ECEAP cohort group if were enrolled for six or more months at an ECEAP the previous year, and were assessed on the WaKIDS during kindergarten. The lower-income and higher-income comparison groups included the entire statewide population of kindergartners who were assessed on the WaKIDS that year, and had attended an elementary school also attended by a former ECEAP student. The lower-income cohort included those eligible for free or reduced price lunch (FRPL) and the higher-income cohort included those who were not FRPL eligible.

While these comparison groups offers useful context, they have limitations: First, we do not know which children received services through Head Start or private preschool, or were in high quality child care. In addition, the use of FRPL as a proxy for lower income is imprecise. The experiences of children who qualify for ECEAP (mostly below 110 percent federal poverty level) may be different from those who qualify for FRPL (up to 185 percent federal poverty level). This means that differences in the kindergarten readiness of ECEAP participants may be even more pronounced than reported here, as the lower-income comparison group includes children from higher income households than the ECEAP group.

The outcomes of interest included “readiness flags” in each of the six WaKIDS domains; social emotional, physical, language, cognitive, literacy, and math, and a flag indicating that they were kindergarten ready all six WaKIDS domains. A child is flagged as “ready” in a given domain when s/he achieves a certain score on the combined objectives comprising the domain in question.

Variable definitions

Student demographics.

Both the ECEAP program and the K-12 system collect information about their students. This report uses demographic information (age, gender, race/ethnicity) and program eligibility/risk factor information (special education, DLL) from both sources, but prioritizes the K-12 CEDARS data when ECEAP students are being compared to lower- and higher-income students from the K-12 system.

Income level (K-12 data).

Within the K-12 system, a “lower-income student” means a student who qualifies for free or reduced price lunch (FRPL) because his/her parent(s) or guardian(s) have an annual income equal to or less than one hundred eighty-five percent of the Income Poverty Guidelines . A higher-income student means a student who does not qualify for FRPL. Source: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=392-100-100

Dual language learner (K-12 data).

A student who meets the following two conditions is eligible for the Transitional Bilingual Instructional Program:

  1. The primary language of the student is other than English; and
  2. The student’s English skills are sufficiently lacking or absent as to delay learning .

Source: http://www.k12.wa.us/MigrantBilingual/pubdocs/TBIPGuidelinesIdentificati...

Special education student (K-12 data).

“Special education student” means a student qualified by their school district for special education services under RCW 28A.155.020. This includes all students with a school-determined individualized education plan (IEP).

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