School Readiness for All

By Chrisanne Gayl

Students have many needs and challenges that they bring to school. This is perhaps no more apparent than in kindergarten, when teachers welcome a new cadre of young children with a wide range of abilities and diverse early learning experiences.

Unfortunately, before children ever enter formal school, achievement gaps have already formed. National data show that students from low-income and minority families enter kindergarten, on average, 12 to 14 months behind their peers in reading and language skills.

This reality forces teachers to play a continuous, losing game of catch up with disadvantaged children and often short-changes students on the higher end of the academic spectrum. To address this challenge, some districts have begun investing in evidence-based prekindergarten programs as a way to bridge the gap.

One preschool program in our nation’s capital -- AppleTree Early Learning Public Charter School -- provides an informative example of what some educators are doing to erase the achievement gap before children enter kindergarten and create a model of teaching and learning that is exportable to other communities. 

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