Research shows that early childhood development is the most telling indicator of a child’s future success. Yet, we have historically struggled to act on that research because student data is rarely tracked during pre-Kindergarten years. But now that Dallas area school districts and childcare centers have enrolled more children in Texas’ Kindergarten Readiness System (KRS) than any other region in the State, we have a new opportunity to take action that will impact the lives of our kids during their most influential years.
The KRS, a system created by the Texas Education Agency (TEA), tracks excellence in early childhood programming by linking data from the reading assessment a student takes when entering Kindergarten with the student’s pre-K provider. With thousands of pre-K providers in the region, an unprecedented degree of collaboration was required to enroll students in the voluntary online system.
Beginning in April, leaders from area school districts, Head Start of Greater Dallas, Texas Workforce Commission, ChildCareGroup, Educational First Steps and Region 10 Education Service Center worked together to promote KRS participation amongst administrators, principals and center directors. When the enrollment period officially closed at the end of August, our region (known as Region 10) had enrolled a total of 34,000 children – more than any other in the State. Dallas, Grand Prairie, Richardson, Garland, Irving, and Lancaster Independent School Districts each enrolled 90% or more of their pre-K students. Head Start centers also played a critical role, accounting for more than 13,700 of the students enrolled in our region.
Such high enrollment figures create an enormous opportunity to better understand how we are preparing our youngest learners to be successful in school. Using the information that will come from KRS, our region can now potentially identify best practices and then spread them. Furthermore, this level of cooperation and participation demonstrates the area’s dedication to expand access to quality early childhood education.