Local Stories Preparing Children for School Success in Greater Cincinnati

Submitted by Lyn Engle, United Way of Greater Cincinnati

Cincinnati, Ohio: High quality early learning experiences have long-lasting benefits for at-risk children — they prepare them for a good start in school and make sure they are promoted to the next grade level each year, ultimately graduating high school on time.

Ginna Stanko, a librarian at the Sharonville Branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, knows the importance of early literacy in achieving these goals. Disadvantaged children may come to school at least two years behind their peers in pre-reading skills, and most never catch up.

That's why Ginna has volunteered for four years to administer the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment - Literacy (KRA-L) to Cincinnati Public School students. The mandatory assessment provides teachers with feedback to help build literacy and increase student achievement and helps demonstrate success of United Way's investments in high-quality early learning.

As a KRA-L volunteer, Ginna sees the differences in student's readiness levels, and knows that individual capabilities can have an impact on learning development and teaching practices in the classroom. She's proud to help teachers, as well as children and their families. "It's important parents know how their child's abilities compare to others' their age," she says.

KRA-L scores for children entering Cincinnati Public Schools are improving: 44 percent of children on target in 2006, 45 percent in 2007, 48 percent in 2008, 53 percent in 2009. Children with quality preschool experience do even better on the KRA-L.