ONE IN THREE
1 in 3 children in Kansas City is not prepared for kindergarten. Students who begin school behind experience more cognitive issues, behavior problems, and enroll in special education programs at a higher rate than their peers. That’s why the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, working with Sesame Street in Communities, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and other partners, developed a community-wide initiative called Pre-KC. Kindergarten readiness is one of the KC Chamber’s Big 5 goals for our region.
The mission of Pre-KC is to raise awareness of the critical importance of quality early childhood education and to offer school readiness resources to local families and caregivers.
Did you know that many of our area’s kids begin kindergarten lacking the skills necessary to succeed? A recent report found only 25.8 percent of kindergarteners in Kansas City Public School District were proficient in their reading skills at the start of the school year. Only 30.7 percent were proficient in math. This readiness gap largely permeates through a child’s academic career and serves as a barrier to academic achievement at every grade level of their education and beyond.
Research shows that children born into low-income families hear roughly 30 million fewer words by the age of three than their more affluent peers. This gaps leads to an alarming achievement gap – in school and in life. Literacy-rich environments during the first four years are critical for laying the groundwork for reading proficiency in school.
In 2007 (the latest national data available) 21 percent of poor children ages three to six could recognize all 26 letters of the alphabet, compared with 35 percent living above the poverty threshold.
While 49 percent of poor young children could count to 20 or higher, 67 percent of those living above poverty could do so. In the same year, 46 percent of poor children could write their names, compared with 46 percent of those living above poverty.