Poverty and Kindergarten Preparedness

By Dr. Don Coberly, Superintendent, Boise School District:

Since the free-reduced lunch data are available for schools around the state on the ISDE website, and research indicates that the two variables are related, we decided to run a scattergram portraying the relationship between preparedness and free/reduced lunch percentages.

For the chart, we used 2013 free-reduced lunch percentages for schools with over 25 entering kindergartners, and Fall 2013 IRI percentages of reading-ready students for those schools. A few of the schools in the comparison are kindergarten-only schools, for which lunches are not provided, so we used the District percentage of free/reduced instead.
By way of explanation, Van Buren and Sacajawea in Caldwell have free/reduced percentages of 91 and 90, respectively, and 23% of kindergartners at those schools achieved a “3” on the Fall 2013 IRI. Conversely, Hidden Springs (Boise) had 6% free/reduced and 82% scores of “3” on the IRI, and Galileo in Meridian had 11% free-reduced and 87% prepared to read.

As you can see, the correlation between preparation and free/reduced percentage the two variables is quite high (-.755) and negative ((-1) would be a perfect negative correlation).

If a pilot of pre-k is initiated in Idaho, it might make sense to carefully select high poverty/low-preparedness participating schools, so as to maximize the possible return on investment. If Basin District’s experience is any indicator, the pilot will yield tremendous gains in reading literacy.

For more, please visit Dr. Coberly’s blog, Data Points.