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Eye on Education: Early childhood education starts at home

Eye on Education: Early childhood education starts at home
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Children in Midland not being ready for kindergarten is a problem


Updated 2:09 pm, Monday, April 9, 2018



Just more than 50 percent of kindergarten students inside Midland ISD were “kindergarten ready.”

That was the result of a survey of nearly 1,900 students in 26 schools during the 2016-17 school year. The survey was part a community school readiness assessment that used the Early Development Instrument. The “EDI,” as it is called, gathers information and then provides information about children in five development areas that are known to impact well-being and school performance. They are:

–          physical health and well-being,

–          social competence,

–          emotional maturity,

–          language and cognitive skills and

–          communication skills and general knowledge.

Forty-seven percent of students surveyed were identified as not ready across all five developmental areas, according to the community study. The results of that study matched the Texas Education Agency’s readiness measurement, according to the education support group Educate Midland. The most recently reported TEA data shows that more than half – 53.9 percent – of Midland kindergarten students are “kindergarten ready.”

In June 2017, Educate Midland organized a community work group, called the Early Childhood Action Network, which is made up of early childhood professionals, business leaders, funders and civic leaders. ECAN’s goal is to increase the number of young children who are developmentally ready for school and are on track for later learning.

The data shows that is not the case.

“I don’t know if (the data) was real surprise to people in education. We expected that was the case,” said Lori Smith, Child Development and Early Childhood instructor at Midland College. “People don’t realize how important those early years are. … (The early years) are the cornerstone to determine whether a child will be successful in school.”

Smith said ages 3 and 4 are critical to brain development, and “not much can be done” if proper development doesn’t take place.

“To me that is scary,” Smith said.

Educate Midland Executive Director Purvis Evans told the Reporter-Telegram that sharing this early childhood education data is a first step, but seeing progress will require the effort of the entire community to recognize healthy early childhood development as a necessary component to student success.

One problem in Midland is the lack of opportunity for affordable and accredited child care. As Smith said, waiting lists for day care can be “miles” long. Even the pre-K options at MISD are limited.

Still, both Smith and Evans said one goal of ECAN is to encourage parents and caregivers to be their child’s “first teacher” and to offer tools and support that will help with early childhood development. It doesn’t matter if they speak, sing, read or even have conversations with the child, Smith said. Those small steps help mold the child into a better learner when elementary school becomes an option. “Parents are with their kids more than a child is at a child care center,” Smith said.  “They are their first teacher.”

Some examples of support tools include the digital app “Bright by Text,” which is being sponsored by the United Way of Midland. Bright by Text offers age-appropriate tips and resources to parents and caregivers via their cellphone. To sign up, parents and caregivers with children under 5 can text the word “family” or “familia” to 274448. Additionally, CLI Engage offers free online resources to early childhood programs, which includes access to online professional development courses, child assessment tools, lessons, and more via cliengage.org.

To learn more about the Midland County EDI report and the work of the ECAN, contact Educate Midland at 432-818-2620 or www.educatemidland.org.

Community Information

Children: 1,873 surveyed

Children who are English language learners (ELL): 15 percent

Children who have individualized education program (IEP) for children with disabilities: 6 percent

Race: African-American, black, 6 percent; Asian, native Hawaiian or Pacific islander, 3 percent; Hispanic/Latino, 62 percent; white, 27 percent; other, 2 percent.

EDI results by Developmental area

(in Midland County)

–Physical health and well-being

on track: 79 percent

at risk: 12 percent

vulnerable: 9 percent

–Social competence

on track: 75 percent

at risk: 13 percent

vulnerable: 12 percent

–Emotional maturity

on track: 74 percent

at risk: 14 percent

vulnerable: 12 percent

–Language and cognitive development

on track: 77 percent

at risk: 15 percent

vulnerable: 8 percent

–Communication skills and general knowledge

on track: 79 percent

at risk: 17 percent

vulnerable: 7 percent

–Distribution across all developmental domains

on track: 53 percent

at risk: 23 percent

vulnerable: 24 percent

Save the date

–State of Education event, 11 a.m. April 18, Horseshoe Pavilion.

The Midland Chamber of Commerce hosts this annual luncheon to engage and inform the public about the challenges and opportunities facing public and private schools, colleges and universities. This year’s keynote speaker is Orlando Riddick, Midland ISD superintendent.

–Tee It Up For Success Golf Tournament, May 18, Ranchland Hills Golf Club

If you are interested in sponsoring or playing in the golf tournament, please submit the entry form below to Peggy Kuss at peggy.kuss@midlandisd.net by April 30 for sponsors and May 7 for teams.

–Right at School: Midland ISD’s before- and after-school program – parent information meeting, 6 p.m., Tuesday, Bowie Fine Arts Academy, 805 Elk Ave.

–Public community meeting, MISD secondary boundary proposal, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Alamo Junior High, 3800 Storey Ave.

–MISD board meetings

April 17

May 14



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