School district to add fourth pre-K class
Another pre-kindergarten (pre-K) class will be added for the 2018-19 school year in Northampton Area School District.
The new pre-K class at Franklin Elementary School, Northampton, joins two pre-K classes at George Wolf Elementary School, Bath, and one class at Moore Elementary School — for a total of four classes in the district.
Each class, run by Community Services for Children (CSC) is federally funded through grants at no cost to NASD, other than providing classroom space. Each class, held 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. with breakfast and lunch provided, has 20 students. Each instructor is certified. NASD does not provide transportation for pre-K students.
“We’ve been working on expanding our pre-K throughout the district,” NASD Superintendent of Schools Joseph S. Kovalchik said. “I think it’s a program that has done great things for our students and families.”
Students in pre-K classes have shown improved scores from 2012-13 through 2016-17, when the most recent statistics were available, said Dr. Kathleen E. Ott, NASD director of data, grants and special programs, during a 30-minute presentation, discussion and question-and-answer session at the Sept. 10 NASD Board of Education meeting.
“The students who have gone through pre-K have been very successful and continue to be successful,” Ott said.
NASD partners with CSC, which runs Head Start and Pre-K Counts, Northampton County, and Colonial I-U 20 for early intervention. Enrollment of pre-K students is based on economic need.
“The response has been tremendous,” Ott said.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s approved 2018 budget earmarks a $40 million expansion to pre-K classes.
Pre-K began in NASD with one class in the 2012-13 school year, expanding to two classes in 2014-15 and to three classes in 2017-18. As of the end of 2018, 300 NASD students will have completed pre-K classes.
“The goal is to have one pre-K class at every elementary school in the district,” Ott said.
According to Ott’s presentation, The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) assessment, which measures the acquisition of early literacy and early reading skills from kindergarten through sixth grade, demonstrated that:
In 2012-13, pre-K students scored 87 percent at or above the bench mark as second-graders.
In 2013-14, pre-K students scored 93.3 percent at or above the bench mark as first-graders.
In 2014-15, pre-K students scored 94 percent at or above the bench mark in kindergarten.
From September 2015-May 2016, pre-K students’ grade assessment was 84-percent proficient or above.
From September 2016-May 2017, pre-K students’ grade assessment growth scale value, which measures progress over time, was 29.26 percent.
In 2012-13, pre-K students as third-graders scored 66-percent proficient or above in English Language Acquisition (ELA) and 66-percent proficient or above in math in Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) scores.
In 2012-13, pre-K students as fourth-graders scored 73.3-percent proficient or above in ELA and 60-percent proficient or above in math and 93.3-percent proficient or above in science.
According to Ott’s presentation, NASD pre-K students fared better than incoming new registration kindergarten students who were not in pre-K classes in the following areas:
Count to 20: pre-K students, 80 percent; new registration students, 55 percent
Know colors: pre-K students, 100 percent; new registration students, 75 percent
Know shapes: pre-K students, 93 percent; new registration students, 21 percent
Follow directions: pre-K students, 94 percent; new registration students, 87 percent
Separate from parent: pre-K students, 94 percent; new registration students, 79 percent
Capital letters: pre-K students, 98 percent; new registration students, 23 percent, and
Lowercase letters: pre-K students, 81 percent; new registration students, 9 percent.
“[Pre-K students] get right down to learning. Many are self-motivated,” Ott said. “The parents of the pre-K students get involved and stay involved.”
Ott said in her presentation that teacher-reported data indicated social-emotion improvement among students who took pre-K classes:
Student’s attitude toward class is generally positive: 93 percent agree
Student is generally visibly happy: 90 percent agree
Student has friends in class: 98 percent agree
Student gets along with classmates: 90 percent agree
Student is helpful toward teacher during school: 87 percent agree
Student is engaged in academic tasks: 81 percent agree
Student is self-motivated during school day: 73 percent agree
Student works well in class: 81 percent agree
Student gets involved in school activities: 51 percent agree, and
There is a relationship with parent of student: 84 percent agree.
To ensure continued pre-K class success, an NASD Early Childhood Task Force has been established to foster relationships with pre-Ks, day cares and nursery schools in NASD; promote educational programs and provide education materials to new parents of pre-K students in NASD; and maintain and fortify community partnerships with CSC and childhood-related entities.
The NASD pre-K class was launched in 2012 with a five-year Pennsylvania Keystone To Opportunity grant that expired in 2017. Funding has been picked up by CSC.
The board of education next meets 6:30 p.m. Sept. 24 in the administration building, 2014 Laubach Ave.