Enter kindergarten school ready

50% of Central Texas Children Enter Kindergarten School Ready

Indicator: Percentage of children entering kindergarten school ready

Goal: Increase the percentage of children entering kindergarten school ready

Target: 70% by 2023

Key trends:The rate of school readiness among Central Texas kindergarteners dropped  in 2019 to 50%, according to the E3 Alliance with the help of experts from across the region. From 2010 to 2019 about half or slightly more than half of Central Texas kindergarteners were school ready.

Significant disparities exist between low income and non-low income students. In 2019, 38% of low income children were school ready, compared to 61% of non-low income children. Racial disparities also persist. White students are more likely than Hispanic students to be school ready. While the sample sizes for Black students are small and not statistically reliable , the data from this group over time seems to indicate a lower rate of school readiness. Students who attend pre-k prior to kindergarten are more likely to be ready for school.

what the data tell us

In 2019, half of Central Texas kindergartners were school ready according to data from the E3Alliance, analyzed with the help of experts from across the region. In 2019, 50% of Central Texas kindergartners arrived school ready, compared to 53% in 2014.

Definition: Percent of children who were assessed school ready

Data Source: E3 Alliance

Data Considerations: This data is based on a sample of students from various Central Texas school districts. There are variations in the sample size and in districts represented in the data sample across years. This data was collected during assessments done over kindergarteners’ first nine weeks of school. Children were assessed across four domains of child development: social/emotional, language and communication, early literacy, and mathematics. The data is weighted to be representative of the Central Texas region. The only statistically significant change is the decrease in readiness in 2015 compared to prior years. *The jurisdiction for this data is the Austin Community College service area, which was changed slightly by the Texas State Legislature, marginally reducing the total population size.

the story behind the indicator

Only half of children entering kindergarten ready for school were prepared in 2019. To track school readiness, E3 Alliance developed a measure known as Ready, Set K! that assesses students on their preparedness for kindergarten in four domains: social-emotional development, emerging literacy, language and communication, and math. Each year, kindergarten teachers in a sample of Central Texas classrooms assess the readiness of their new students. This indicator has remained relatively unchanged since the E3 Alliance began collecting data in 2010.

School readiness has a lasting effect throughout a child’s lifetime, influencing later academic success. The programs available to children impact their ability to begin kindergarten prepared to succeed. In their 2019 study, E3 found that 53% of students who attended a pre-kindergarten program were school ready, compared to 35% of students who did not attend one of these programs. In 2019, 77% of eligible 4-year olds in Central Texas enrolled in public pre-kindergarten. E3 has set a community goal of ensuring all eligible children enroll in a pre-k program by 2023. Students living in families with low-incomes are also less likely to enter school prepared. In 2019, 14% of children under 5 lived in families with incomes below the poverty level.

some local efforts to improve this indicator

  • United Way for Greater Austin’s Success by 6 initiative is a community collaborative of over 30 organizations working together to ensure that children enter kindergarten happy, healthy and prepared for school success. These groups have created the School Readiness Action Plan to collectively impact school readiness. Originally crafted in 2012, in early 2015, the group released an updated plan for 2015 through 2018. Goals for the plan include supporting families to help them support their children, increasing access to high quality early education and care, promoting preventive health and mental health services, and fostering public and private partnerships to promote school readiness. In 2015, stakeholders released 3-year update, highlighting progress has already been made in implementing the original plan, including:
    • A number of new programs and resources have been developed to meet the needs of families. School readiness information has been distributed to thousands of parents in a variety of formats in both English and Spanish. The Literacy Coalition of Central Texas introduced Play and Learning Strategies, a parenting education program for clients receiving literacy instruction. Play To Learn, a parent coaching model developed by United Way for Greater Austin, is being utilized by several agencies.
    • A number of programs expanded or shifted resources to help serve more children, including Child, Inc., Workforce Solutions, and the Austin Public Library.
    • A number of partnerships have formed to coordinate services. Eleven agencies formed the Ready Families Collaborative to coordinate services. United Way for Greater Austin and the Dell Children’s Hospital have partnered to better connect pediatric residents with family support programs. A new Travis County Children’s Mental Health Plan has aligned strategies with the School Readiness Action Plan.
    • Both the City of Austin and Travis County have committed additional funding to serving young children and their families. Additionally, the Austin Children’s Shelter received a large grant to provide additional family support services.
  • Austin ISD will double its Pre-k for three-year olds program in the 2016-17 school year, thanks to local funders and support from United Way for Greater Austin. PreK3 is open to 3-year olds in Austin ISD who do not speak English, qualify for free or reduced-proced lunch, are homeless, are the child of an active-dulty member of the armed forces, or who have currently or previously been in the conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services. For information, call 512-414-PREK.
  • Improving school readiness is one of four goals of the E3 Alliance Blueprint for Educational Change.  The Blueprint seeks to improve educational outcomes across the Central Texas region from pre-k through college with a collaborative process that engages parents, students, school personnel and members of the larger community. In addition to measuring success, the E3 Alliance has also developed a School Readiness Parent Guide to help parents prepare their children for school.
  • The Austin Two Generation Advisory Council, co-facilitated by United Way for Greater Austin and the Ray Marshall Center, includes partners from across the community. They strive to connect high quality early childhood education with training opportunities for low-income parents. The Committee helped launch a pilot program with AISD at the Uphaus Early Childhood Center, and crafted a two-generation vision for Austin.
  • During 2014, the City of Austin Public Engagement Office worked with a team of School Readiness Action Plan leaders to engage with parents throughout the community to learn more about their goals for their children, barriers to accessing early education services such child care and Head Start, and things that are working well with our learning system. The results from this effort were incorporated into the 2015-2018 School Readiness Action Plan that will be published in May of 2015. Results from the Parent Engagement Project can be found here.
  • The E3 Alliance Central Texas Education Profile is a comprehensive regional view of education trends and outcomes in Texas, with data available according to racial, economic, and gender breakdowns. The Central Texas Education Profile provides a wide range of actionable and relevant data for our region and connects the dots between student achievement and economic prosperity for our community. It includes data on the region’s demographic changes, early childhood education, K-12 student achievement, achievement gaps, absenteeism, high school graduation, college and career readiness, college enrollment, and student and economic outcomes and implications.
  • Although the state of Texas currently funds only half day pre-kindergarten, area school districts including Austin ISD have continued to offer a full-day pre-kindergarten program to students who have limited English proficiency, are economically disadvantaged, have an active duty military parent, or are homeless.

a closer look at the story behind the indicator

Click any of the section titles below to view related graph and information. Percent of Central Texas Children Entering Kindergarten School Ready by Economic Status Percent of Central Texas Children Entering Kindergarten School Ready, by Race & Ethnicity Percent of Central Texas Children Who Are Kindergarten Ready, by Pre-Kindergarten AttendancePercent of Central Texas Children Who Are Kindergarten Ready, by GenderPercent of Births to Mothers with No High School DiplomaPercent of Births to Mothers with No High School Diploma by Race/Ethnicity in Travis CountyPercent of Children Under the Age of 5 Who Are Living Below the Poverty LevelFacts about Early Childhood Education in Austin/Travis County

disproportionately impacted

  • Children who are Economically Disadvantaged: A recent report from the Brookings Institution highlights research findings from several studies which have demonstrated a connection between economic status and childhood development with economically disadvantaged children having less access to positive inputs and more to exposure negative contexts. Local data collected by the E3 Alliance finds the same disparity in readiness by income level.
  • Children who did not Attend a Quality Pre-K Program: The Texas Education Agency has a Texas Kindergarten Readiness System which certifies pre-k programs that are successful in preparing children for school. Children who do not attend pre-k or attend uncertified programs may not receive the supports they need to prepare them for kindergarten. The E3 Alliance found that Kindergarten students who attended Pre-K were more likely to be ready for school.
  • Children Born to Mothers with no High School Diploma: The National School Readiness Indicators Initiative reports that higher levels of maternal education are associated with better health among children and overall improved educational outcomes, including in the area of school readiness.