• October 19, 2018

Half of Ector County kindergarteners prepared - Odessa American: ECISD

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Half of Ector County kindergarteners prepared

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Posted: Sunday, October 7, 2018 7:08 pm

A study measuring kindergarten readiness shows that Ector County students are vulnerable in emotional maturity and social competence.

The Early Development Instrument is a measure of child development and school readiness, which means it collects information about kindergarten age children in participating geographic areas and creates an overall snapshot of their progress, information from Transforming Early Childhood Community Systems said.

TECCS is a national initiative developed through a partnership between the UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities and the United Way Worldwide, its website said.

Diana Ruiz, University of Texas of the Permian Basin assistant professor and director of the First 5 programs, said 25 schools participated and they were able to get assessments from 94 classrooms. More than 1,700 children are represented in the results, she said.

Each teacher was asked to complete an EDI for each of their students. Ruiz said data for each child is confident.

EDI measures physical health and well being; social competence; emotional maturity; language and cognitive skills; and communication skills and general knowledge.

There were 16 subdomains, Ruiz said.

“Those 16 subdomains ask questions like how is the child in terms of gross and fine motor skills? Can they hold a pencil? Can they cut paper? How are they in terms of basic literacy and numeracy skills? How is their behavior towards others? Do they have aggressive, anxious, fearful behavior? Do they have overall competence with their peers? Are they able to respect one another? Do they hold responsibility? Are they eager and ready to learn? So it’s a whole bunch of different questions.

“It’s definitely a legitimate assessment of where we are as a community in terms of kindergarten readiness. The assessment was completed by kindergarten teachers at ECISD March of this year and we just got the results back a couple of weeks ago from UCLA,” Ruiz said Sept. 27.

Teachers scored children as ready, somewhat ready, or not ready in the subdomains.

“In the big picture of the EDI measurement, children are identified to be either vulnerable, at risk or on track overall,” Ruiz said.

Based on the results, she said, if you look at fine and gross motor skills is perhaps where children scored lowest.

“Sixty percent were ready, so roughly 1 in 2 were ready in terms of holding a pen, pencil, paintbrush, able to climb stairs, manipulate objects and overall physical development,” Ruiz said. “They felt 29 percent of kindergarteners that they did an assessment on were not ready in gross and fine motor (skills), so 1 in 3 were perceived (to be) not ready in terms of gross and fine motor skills.”

Areas where it was felt Ector County had the most “improvement opportunities” were in social competence and emotional maturity, Ruiz said.

“In both of these categories … emotional maturity and social competence, teachers perceived only about half of their students were ready. Actually less than half 47 percent were ‘ready’ in social competence,” she added.

Social competence includes attributes like the ability to get along with peers, following rules and instructions, listening attentively and being curious about the world.

Children here were “even lower scoring” in emotional maturity with 45 percent classified as “ready” for kindergarten.

Emotional maturity includes things like helping behavior, volunteering to clean up messes, trying to help someone when they’re hurt, trying to stop a fight, inviting others to play and being comfortable when other children are upset.

In overall competence with peers, 47 percent of students were ready; 40 percent were somewhat ready; and 13 percent were not ready.

In respect and responsibility, 67 percent were ready; 20 percent were somewhat ready; and 12 percent were not ready.

Under approaches to learning, such as listening attentively and following directions, 56 percent were ready; 29 percent were somewhat ready; and 15 percent were not ready.

Readiness to explore new things showed 74 percent were ready; 20 percent were somewhat ready; and 6 percent were not ready.

In emotional maturity, 45 percent were ready in terms of pro-social and helping behavior; 25 percent were somewhat ready; and 30 percent were not ready.

In each of the 16 subdomains, children were placed into one of three categories: ready, somewhat ready, or not ready for school, Ruiz said.

Under anxious and fearful behavior, 9 percent of children were “somewhat ready” and showed some elements of anxious and fearful behavior; 3 percent were “not ready” and demonstrated frequent anxious behaviors. Eighty-eight percent of children were “ready” and did not show anxious or fearful behavior, Ruiz said.

Under hyperactive and inattentive behavior, 68 percent did not show this behavior while 13 percent were “somewhat ready” and 20 percent were “not ready” and thus demonstrated this behavior frequently.

About 33 percent of children showed frequent signs of hyperactive and inattentive behavior.

“When a child has been exposed to some form of formal education, i.e. preschool, or even a preschool like a Head Start or a preschool within a daycare, they are much more likely to score higher in these subdomains of social competence and emotional maturity,” Ruiz said. “They’re used to following structure (and) interacting with peers …”

She said perhaps some of the children who had no previous preschool education weren’t used to getting along with peers, working cooperatively with others and showing self-confidence.

Ector County Independent School District Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Carolyn Gonzalez said mothers and grandmothers here don’t have to work all the time, so children stay home with them until it’s time to go to school.

“I think for us as a district, we have to work on activities and strategies to assist. If we know that’s what’s going to come in, then we assist with that and we train our teachers on how to address that,” Gonzalez said.

Ruiz said First 5 conducted kinder camps in Odessa and Midland this past summer. They were meant to prepare children for kindergarten. Ruiz said this was a narrow view, but there was a distinct difference between those who were used to saying goodbye to their parents or siblings, heading to class, sitting down and interacting with peers and those who weren’t.

She acknowledged that technology such as iPads and iPhones could be a factor in the lack of social skills and income could also play a role with parents being unable to afford daycare.

Ruiz noted that Head Start in Ector County is not income based.

In terms of distribution across all developmental domains, 50 percent of Ector County kindergartners were on track; 23 percent were considered developmentally at risk; and 28 percent were considered vulnerable in the five developmental areas.

Ruiz said the domain children scored highest in was physical health and well being.

Seventy-seven percent of Ector County kindergarteners were on track; 13 percent were developmentally at risk; and 10 percent were considered vulnerable in each of the five developmental areas, including physical health and well-being, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive skills and communications skills and general knowledge.

The national percentage was the same.

Seventy-two percent of kindergartners were on track for social competence; 15 percent were considered developmentally at risk; and 13 percent were considered vulnerable in the five developmental areas.

Nationally, 75 percent were considered on track.

“Even though social competence and emotional maturity were the lowest scoring domains, they’re still not bad. Seventy-two percent of our children are on track with social competence …,” Ruiz said.

On emotional maturity, 75 percent of kindergarten students were considered to be on track, compared to 78 percent nationwide. In Ector County, 14 percent were considered developmentally at risk and 11 percent were considered vulnerable n each of the five developmental areas.

In language and cognitive development, 73 percent were considered on track, higher than the national percentage of 71 percent. Ector County also scored higher in communication skills and general knowledge with 74 percent being on track compared to 73 percent nationally.

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