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Cottage Grove Sentinel,
by Jon Stinnett
A federal grant recently received from the U.S. Department of Education will be used to gauge the readiness of youth in South Lane School District for kindergarten.
On July 1, The Institute of Education Sciences, a component of the Department of Education, announced that a new researcher-practitioner partnership grant will be awarded to Eugene-based Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC) in partnership with South Lane School District (SLSD) and United Way of Lane County (UWLC).
The grant came from an ongoing collaboration between these three entities that aims to explore the early educational experiences that incoming kindergarteners are having before they begin elementary school.
With help from OSLC, the School District gave all of their new kindergarten families a survey in 2013. Parents indicated whether their children had gone to preschool and where. They also filled out information about their expectations for school.
During the two-year grant period, which started July 1, the partners will continue to give the survey to parents to see if children’s early educational experiences are connected to their kindergarten readiness and adjustment. They also plan to talk with early education providers in the area about what they need to help get children ready for kindergarten and how to develop closer ties with the district.
“We are trying to create strong partnerships to understand how best to get children ready for school—partnerships that will endure past the grant funding period,” said Dr. Katherine Pears, a senior scientist at OSLC and project director for this grant. “There are great collaborations taking place all around Lane County and the state of Oregon to help children have success in school, and it’s nice to be a part of that effort.”
Pears said that the most exciting aspect of the grant may be the desire by the federal government to get researchers from OSLC into local schools.
“They wanted the schools themselves to generate questions that may be useful to them about kindergarten preparedness,” she said. “This was all generated from Jackie Lester (Bohemia Elementary Principal) saying ‘We need to know what our kindergarteners are coming from.’”
Pears said OSLC and the School District will examine the data they’ve received through parent surveys this fall.
“Hopefully, it will let us know what services are offered in the community and what additional services families could benefit from,” she said. “We also plan to connect with the providers of those services to ask what they may need. The idea is to join all of us in a partnership so that the entire process can be more seamless.”