Study: Early learning matters

Columbia test shows education at an early age aids learning.
Friday, March 19, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:18 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Kindergartners build their knowledge not just by learning how to color in the lines and follow directions but also through experiences they have had before entering the classroom.

Study says Columbia children are well-prepared

A new study by the Boone Early Childhood Partners and Project Construct National Center found that children in Columbia are more prepared to enter kindergarten than their peers in the rest of the state.

“A child who is ready for kindergarten is a child who is ready to learn,” said Dr. Cheryl Cozette, assistant superintendent of elementary education of the Columbia Public Schools.

One teacher from each of Columbia’s elementary schools was trained to assess his or her kindergarten class in 2003. More than 90 percent of schools in Boone County participated, assessing 410 students. Forty-two percent of Boone County children had above average preparation, compared with 30 percent of the state. Another 42 percent in Boone County had average preparation, and 16 percent were below average, compared with 25 percent statewide.

Study could become annual

BECP President Eleanor Farnen said she hopes to make it an annual study by raising money to pay for it. This year’s study costs $11,000. The kindergartners were measured in symbolic development, communication, mathematical and physical knowledge, working with others and learning to learn. Boone County scored higher than the state in all categories but symbolic development.

Assessments were also made by the parents, who tested the home literacy of their children.

Study says pre-kindergarten education gives kids an edge

The study shows that those who have pre-kindergarten education score significantly higher than their counterparts who do not.

“We know that early differences in achievement — the kind of differences we’re seeing in this assessment — can persist throughout life,” Farnen said. “We need to close the achievement gap before kindergarten entry.”

The study also looked at background characteristics, such

as socioeconomic level, pre-kindergarten experience and gender.

“We hope to create a public dialogue about the effect of poverty on young children and their chances to succeed in school, (and) encourage par-ental involvement in home literacy activities and participation in Parents as Teachers,” Farnen said.

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