Thursday, September 11, 2014

Poverty and Kindergarten Preparedness

In the previous post (Idaho Kindergartners - Preparation for Reading) we discussed the state of reading preparation among kindergartners around the state of Idaho.

Since the free-reduced lunch data are available for schools around the state on the ISDE website, and research indicates that the two variables are related, we decided to run a scattergram portraying the relationship between preparedness and free/reduced lunch percentages.

For the chart, we used 2013 free-reduced lunch percentages for schools with over 25 entering kindergartners, and Fall 2013 IRI percentages of reading-ready students for those schools. A few of the schools in the comparison are kindergarten-only schools, for which lunches are not provided, so we used the District percentage of free/reduced instead.

Here is the scattergram:

By way of explanation, Van Buren and Sacajawea in Caldwell have free/reduced percentages of 91 and 90, respectively, and 23% of kindergartners at those schools achieved a "3" on the Fall 2013 IRI. Conversely, Hidden Springs (Boise) had 6% free/reduced and 82% scores of "3" on the IRI, and Galileo in Meridian had 11% free-reduced and 87% prepared to read.

As you can see, the correlation between preparation and free/reduced percentage the two variables is quite high (-.755) and negative ((-1) would be a perfect negative correlation).

If a pilot of pre-k is initiated in Idaho, it might make sense to carefully select high poverty/low-preparedness participating schools, so as to maximize the possible return on investment. If Basin District's experience is any indicator, the pilot will yield tremendous gains in reading literacy.