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Wasatch Back Kindergarten Kids Show Large Gaps In Literacy


Credit Early Childhood Alliance
Early Childhood Alliance

Children entering kindergarten are assessed for their proficiency in literacy and numeracy. The Fall 2020 report for Wasatch Back students shows the drastic difference in children's readiness based on income and English Language skills.

Utah public schools use the Kindergarten Entry-Exit Profile (KEEP) to measure a child's kindergarten preparedness. The four school districts in the Wasatch Back show varying degrees of proficiency between low income, English Language Learners and non-low-income children.

Students who qualify for free and reduced lunch is the metric used to designate low-income students.

Wasatch School District had 632 students entering kindergarten last fall. 71% of not low-income students were proficient in literacy, with 82% proficient in numeracy. The low-income students were 42% proficient in literacy and 52% in numeracy. ELL students were 14% proficient in literacy and 19% in numeracy compared with 70% non-ELL who were proficient in literacy and 79% in numeracy.

Park City School District had 256 kindergarteners entering school with non-low-income students testing 90% proficient in literacy and 92% in numeracy. By contrast, the low-income students were 38% and 36%, respectively. Park City School District also reveals wide gaps between ELL and non-ELL students entering kindergarten. 92% of non-ELL kids are proficient in literacy compared with 24% of ELL students. Non-ELL Proficiency in numeracy is 93% compared with ELL students at 27%.

There are proficiency gaps between low income and ELL students in the South Summit and North Summit School districts. However, Park City School District indicates the widest spread between non-Low Income, Low Income, and ELL students.

Utah State Board of Education PreK-12 Literacy Coordinator Sara Wiebke said the data is not a reflection of the school district or learning environment. The KEEP assessment tells educators right away which kids need help.

“So, if you're looking at North Summit School District for example, we are looking at 64% of those students coming in were proficient in literacy, which means we have definitely a huge chunk of students that are going to need extra support and literacy, meaning they are already slightly to quite a bit behind in that realm."

Elementary English Language Arts Assessment Specialist Liz Williams said most schools use a reading assessment three times throughout the year to determine how students progress.

"So, they don't rely just strictly on the KEEP assessment itself where it is only at the beginning and the end of the year. They have other options to check and make sure that the type of instruction most students are receiving is making a difference in closing the achievement gap for the kindergarteners that come in below proficient.”

The table showing the gaps in proficiencies for Summit and Wasatch County children entering kindergarten can be found on KPCW.org.

“KPCW reports on news and issues affecting children age 0 through three years old. It iss brought to you by the early childhood fund at the Park City Community Foundation For more information go to earlychildhoodalliance.net

KPCW reporter Carolyn Murray covers Summit and Wasatch County School Districts. She also reports on wildlife and environmental stories, along with breaking news. Carolyn has been in town since the mid ‘80s and raised two daughters in Park City.
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