Our community does not have a community-wide assessment for kindergarten readiness.

Let's Break IT Down

Many children in our community, particularly those from lower income families, may not have access to Pre-K programs.

There were 5,788 children enrolled in pre-kindergarten (Pre-K) programs in Douglas, Sarpy, and Pottawattamie County schools in the 2014-15 school year. There are also programs within private schools and childcare centers, but because private enrollment isn't reported publicly, we don’t know how many children are attending. To provide some level of comparison, there are 60,258 children under age five in the three-county area. Of those children, 20% (12,076) are living in poverty.

Why Does It Matter?

Significant achievement gaps persist for children who are behind when they start kindergarten.

Preparing children for kindergarten has been proven through extensive research to be an indicator of future educational success. Children who enter kindergarten already behind, may struggle to keep up through the remainder of their education. Ensuring children are ready for kindergarten is a foundational milestone. While there is debate on defining readiness, both cognitive and social/emotional skills are considered key skills for a child to be ready for kindergarten.

Superintendents in the Learning Community worked together with the Buffett Early Childhood Institute, to develop an Early Childhood Plan for children from birth to age three who have the greatest education needs. Their overall goal is to reduce the current achievement gap for students by 3rd grade. Achievement gaps occur when there are significant differences in proficiency rates for children from different racial/ethnic backgrounds and income levels.

The Buffett Early Childhood Institute has seven major indicators to ensure that the achievement gap is closed. These indicators look beyond an individual child’s readiness and look at the environment in which a child is living. These seven indicators include: health and development, learning and development, family support, high quality early care, a skilled early childhood workforce, community commitment and engagement and informed and effective public policies.

How Do We Compare?

Iowa and Nebraska both have higher Pre-K enrollment than the national average.

Iowa ranked 7th nationally with 33% of their 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in state Pre-K. Nebraska ranked 17th with 22% enrolled.

In the 2014-15 school year, Nebraska spent $5,711 per child (which doubled from 2013) on state-funded Pre-K programs and $7,413 on Early Head Start programs, ranking 22nd in combined local, federal, and state spending and 36th in state spending. Iowa spent $3,595 per child on Pre-K programs and $7,427 on Early Head Start, ranking 34th in combined local, state, and federal spending and 35th in state spending.

The national average for state spending in 2014-15 was $4,489.

Data Source: Early Childhood Plan, Buffett Early Childhood, National Institute for Early Childhood Research- The State of Preschool


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