At its June meeting, the State Board of Education adopted an instrument for early childhood readiness in Missouri after reviewing the results of a year-long pilot. In May, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education wrapped up a pilot of three readiness tools, which were tested in a variety of programs across the state serving children ages 3 through their kindergarten year.
The recommended voluntary early childhood readiness tool is the Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP) instrument developed by the California Department of Education. The tool will provide useful information to parents, child care providers, teachers and administrators about the learning and development of each student. Some Missouri programs have been anxiously awaiting one common instrument for early childhood education.
“This readiness tool is critically important because it’s formative, meaning teachers can use it throughout the year to evaluate their students’ strengths and weaknesses,” said Jim Caccamo, director of the Department of Early Learning at the Mid-America Regional Council. “It will help us know where to adjust programs to help all children progress toward kindergarten readiness in Missouri.”
“I believe a consistent tool for early childhood readiness will improve education in Missouri, because we will now have a common language and expectations for young children's learning,” said Missy Riley, director of Early Childhood and Parents as Teachers Springfield office. “Previously, any program could claim they were meeting children's school-readiness needs, but now we will be able to establish benchmarks for learning in the crucial early learning years.”
Assessing children’s early learning needs is a first step toward closing the kindergarten-readiness gap. Missouri’s Top 10 by 20 initiative calls for ensuring all children enter kindergarten prepared for school success.
Preschool teachers (including those in state pre-kindergarten, community-based programs, Head Start, Early Childhood Special Education and Title I programs), kindergarten teachers and family child care providers with programs for children ages 3 through kindergarten participated in the pilot. Participants gave feedback on the tool they used.
For those who choose to use this tool, the new instrument will require a $300 annual investment for the tool and online system for programs with up to 200 students and some training costs. Missouri school districts and child care providers are encouraged but not required to use the recommended early childhood tool.
The Department will add information about the readiness tool to its website as well as organize training sessions in the summer/fall of 2013. Additional information about the recommended instrument can be found at desiredresults.us.