COMMERCIAL-NEWS | ROBERT TOMLINSON - St. Joseph County ISD Director of Early Childhood Services Amy Brauer presents the ISD’s EHS School Readiness data during their meeting Monday, May 16.

ISD updated on Early Head Start school readiness plan

CENTREVILLE — The St. Joseph County ISD heard a report on school readiness data from their Early Head Start program during their monthly meeting last week.

Amy Brauer, director of early childhood services for the ISD, made the presentation, which focused on a number of developmental categories and the percentages of children scoring above (top 25 percent), consistent (middle 50 percent) or below (bottom 25 percent) age-level norms in those categories. The results presented were based on a new curriculum called HighScope that began last summer, which came along with a new child assessment tool called COR.

“This is our first time using that data collection system as an assessment for children,” Brauer said. “We’re still learning these reports; we’re still learning as a team on how to enter the data and how it levels differently than our prior tool.”

She said the data presented now will look different than it will five years into the future because of how new they are to it.

“As you’re working through those learning processes, your data looks different at the beginning than when you’re two, three, four, five years in,” Brauer said. “Regardless, we want to ensure that we’ll monitor those pieces of data to ensure we have a high-quality program where kids are where we should be.”

The categories presented on were: approaches to learning, social and emotional development, physical development and health, language, literacy and communication, math, creative arts, science and technology, and social studies. Results were compared from Fall 2021 to Winter 2022 semesters.

Most of the data presented showed consistently lower year-to-year percentages of kids above age-level norms, with some decreases more pronounced than others (approaches to learning went down about 4 percent from fall to winter, while language, literacy and communication went from about 37 percent to 16 percent.) The data also showed consistently that more kids were below age-level norms in winter than in fall, while five of the eight categories showed increases in kids meeting age-level norms.

During the portion of the report on physical health and development, Trustee Michele Bush asked why there were such big changes between below and above age-level norms. Brauer chalked it up to learning the new system.

“I do think part of it is learning the tool, because in the past the way it worked, you can collect the data and level it yourself,” Brauer said. “This one is a little different. I do think it’s just learning what [the teachers] need to observe. When we’re gathering data for every single child, we’re looking for 36 objectives, so I do think some of it is just knowing to observe a particular kid doing a particular thing so they can take a note and put it in there.”

At the end, Brauer laid out the next steps for the program and how to move forward with the new curriculum and assessment. She said they will focus on math and science with providers and home visitors, continue training and professional development on the COR assessment tool for providers, and monitor at the program level to determine future additional steps to improve implementation.

In other business…

  • The board approved the first reading of a policy change/addition, which codifies that the ISD will provide a parent/guardian, upon request to the building principal, the opportunity to review district-approved curriculum, textbooks and instructional materials. Superintendent Teresa Belote said it’s something the ISD already does, but the policy puts it into a formal policy.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 22 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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