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Top 10 by 20 Initiative Part III: Entering Kindergarten Prepared for Success

This post is Part 3 of a series on the Missouri Top 10 by 20 initiative. To read this series from the beginning, click here.

In 2009, The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) launched a statewide education improvement effort called Missouri Top 10 by 20. The initiative aims for Missouri’s K-12 students to rank in the top 10 states in America in academic performance by the year 2020.

Missouri 10 by 20 is broken down into several smaller goals and objectives. Those goals and objectives make the initiative more actionable and help hold teachers, administrators, and lawmakers accountable for ensuring student success.

We’ve written already about Missouri 10 by 20 Goal #1: “All Missouri students will graduate college and career ready”. Today we’re here to talk about Goal #2: “All Missouri children will enter kindergarten prepared to be successful in school”.

To help young learners prepare for kindergarten, parents need to account for basic factors like creating a safe and nurturing home environment and making sure young children receive the health care they need. Formalized early childhood programs, however, also play a role in preparing kids for kindergarten.

To that end, Missouri has identified screenings, parent education, and quality early childhood programs as some of the best tools for helping Missouri’s babies, toddlers, and preschoolers get ready for school.

Health Screenings for Missouri Children

One of the ways that Missouri measures its success in preparing kids for kindergarten is by tracking the percentage of young children who are screened for health concerns and developmental delays each year.

Early childhood health screenings help professionals to identify developmental delays, nutritional shortfalls, and other issues that could have a negative impact on a young child’s overall wellness and on his or her success in school.

The state plans to increase the percentage of young children (birth through kindergarten) who receive developmental screenings and health screenings by 2% annually.

Learn More: This Q&A, published by DESE, goes into more detail about health and developmental screenings.

Parent Education Home Visits in Missouri

Another way that Missouri is helping young children prepare for kindergarten is by providing services and education directly to their parents. Families are a child’s first (and primary) educator: A child will be more prepared for kindergarten if his or her family is engaged and supportive, playing an active role in his or her development and education.

Parent education home visits provide information, support, and encouragement that parents need to help their children develop in the early years. Programs like Parents as Teachers work with parents to help them understand their child’s development, and home visits also help them to strengthen their parenting practices.

Home visitors are trained to help families detect developmental delays or other health issues that might be detrimental to a child’s learning and development. They help prevent child abuse and neglect, and all-around, they increase children’s readiness for success in school. (source)

Missouri’s goal is to increase the number of parent education home visits — to both at-risk and not-at-risk —families with young children by 2% each year.

Learn More: Parenting Education in Missouri

Quality Standards in Missouri’s Early Childhood Education Programs

Finally, Missouri recognizes the need for an increase in the number of early childhood programs for Missouri’s infants, toddlers, and preschools that meet established quality standards.

Missouri adopted a series of 10 Early Learning Program Standards in 2011 to help ensure high quality early education opportunities that would help prepare Missouri’s youngest learners for school. Some of Missouri’s specific educational programs and grants available to support infant, toddler and preschool education include Missouri Head Start.

Learn More: Parents as Teachers’ Alignment with State Early Learning Standards

In June of this year, Governor Nixon signed Senate Bill 869 and House Bill 1831. These two bills “establish a transparent set of quality indicators for child care providers”, says Governor Jay Nixon’s office.

The Governor says, “these quality indicators will give parents the tools and information they need to choose the right childcare provider for their family.”

Those quality indicators include things like state licensure, health and safety requirements, use of curricula, additional staff training, and any history of violations. (Source)

The state hopes to increase these programs by 2% annually.

Educational and service organizations across the state are working together to provide families with the health screenings, parent education home visits, and higher quality early childhood programs. Together, these programs and services are working to help Missouri reach the Top 10 states in the nation in student performance by 2020.

Missouri Top 10 by 20 is a statewide improvement effort that aims for student achievement in Missouri to rank among the top 10 states in the nation by 2020. Learn more about Missouri 10 by 20 on the DESE website.

Missouri Updates Top 10 by 20 for Fiscal Year 2015

Top 10 by 20 Initiative Part II: Graduating College and Career Ready

Preparing Your Child for Kindergarten in Missouri

Now for Later: A Campaign for Early Childhood Education in Missouri

Stay up to date on Missouri 10 by 20 and other Missouri public education policy and funding initiatives by coming back often to the Missouri Parent Blog, liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter.

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