By Alyssa Schnugg
Putting a spotlight on early childhood learning in the Oxford and Lafayette County community has helped area children become more “kindergarten ready,” according to Tamara Hillmer, director of the Early Childhood and Reading Development.
At the start of the school year, 45 percent of all kindergartners tested to be kindergarten-ready.
The school readiness rate for children who attended the Oxford School District’s pre-K program was 62 percent. The school readiness rate of Lafayette County School District kindergartners is 63 percent.
“Both kindergarten programs have steadily increased their school readiness rates over the past four years,” Hillmer said Monday after presenting the findings to the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors during their regular meeting.
The school readiness rate is measured by the Mississippi Kindergarten Readiness Assessment scale score of 530 in the fall. The average scale score of kindergartners in the Lafayette and Oxford community was 511, which is under the 530 benchmark.
In the 2015-2016 school year, 40 percent of students from the Lafayette and Oxford pre-K programs tested as school ready. In 2017-2018, 46 students tested as kindergarten-ready.
Of the 512 kindergartners assessed on the fall MKAS, only 229 kindergartners 45 percent met the 530 benchmark.
“When applying for the MDE Early Learning Collaborative, this data was used to show the need for increased quality and access to preschool programming in the LOU community,” Hillmer said.
The 45 percent or 511 score was the average of all kindergartners in Oxford and Lafayette – some who attended other daycares and preschools and those who didn’t attend any school prior to arriving at kindergarten.
“We have identified the readiness rate for each childcare center and preschool in the LOU community based on the current kindergartners’ MKAS2 scale scores,” Hillmer said. “Directors and administrators will use this data to strengthen their programs in order for incoming kindergartners to be successful in school.”
The Early Childhood and Reading Development Partnership was formed in 2017 and is a partnership between Oxford School District, Lafayette County School District, the city of Oxford and Lafayette County to impact the reading success of all children in Lafayette County.
Hillmer credited former director, Suzanne Ryals, and the work she did in the first year of the partnership in helping to increase the city and county’s scores, as well as some of the programs being used to help schools and parents help the children become kindergarten-ready, like the Parent Academy being held at local elementary schools were teachers provide parents with information to help their child learn the necessary skills for becoming school ready.
The next academies will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Jan. 8 at Bramlett Elementary School and from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Jan. 22 at Lafayette Lower Elementary.
For more information, visit LOU Reads Coalition on Facebook or visit www.loureads.org.