Virginia Early Childhood Foundation Releases School Readiness Report Card and Interactive Map Tool

Richmond, Va. (Oct. 24, 2018) – The Virginia Early Childhood Foundation has released the 2018 edition of Virginia’s Biennial School Readiness Report Card. While the 2016 Report Card tracked a number of indicators over a ten-year period, this edition reviews trends over the past five years in two domains – Risks and Results.

The School Readiness Report Card and accompanying Interactive Map Tool (www.virginiareportcard.com) help community stakeholders track the progress of state and local school readiness initiatives, as well as assist them in making data-informed decisions on the programs and services for young children. Collecting and organizing a wealth of data, interpreting it in a biennial report and providing ready access to the data over time are essential steps in strengthening Virginia’s school readiness efforts.

Key Findings

While there was a general trend toward modest five-year improvements on some indicators of academic performance, the data presented a somewhat mixed picture. The areas of modest improvement included the K-3 retention rate, the 9th grade retention rate and the drop-out rate.

In contrast, the five-year Results on 3rd grade SOL scores and on PALS-K performance were less encouraging. On SOL tests, both Reading and Math performance increased and peaked in the 2015-2016 school year and then declined for the following two consecutive years, though performance on both is still higher than it was five years ago.

Data for all local and state indicators, including disaggregation by race/ethnicity and by income status, are available through the Virginia School Readiness Interactive Map Tool found on VECF’s School Readiness Report Card website.

The 2018 Report Card findings also showed that the impact of prolonged poverty on many at-risk children bears careful monitoring because it may threaten to diminish the positive outcomes that might have been achieved in some of the other indicators.

Challenges & Opportunities

Despite the ability to access significant amounts of data for the Report Card, there remain severe gaps in available information in several fundamental areas, making it challenging to provide more functional analyses that can drive broad system- and policy-level initiatives.

Also, according to the Report Card analysis, the current lack of a cohesive statewide system framework is the most consequential barrier to progress in creating an early childhood system that optimizes early development and school readiness. Fortunately, early childhood champions from the business community, local leaders and elected officials from both sides of the political aisle are working together on behalf of the state’s youngest citizens.

“Thanks to Virginia’s business community and bipartisan legislative support for a strong start to the workforce pipeline, as well as the leadership of Governor and Mrs. Northam, we believe the Commonwealth is at a tipping point in its school readiness efforts with tremendous potential for ensuring that Virginia’s children have a solid foundation for school, life and career success,” said Bill Ermatinger, board chair of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and executive vice president and chief human resources officer for Huntington Ingalls Industries in Newport News, Va.

Ermatinger further noted the School Readiness Report Card constitutes an important piece of the VECF’s data-driven work to advance early education initiatives throughout the Commonwealth.

“VECF and our Smart Beginnings partners are committed to harnessing the information in the School Readiness Report Card to change the way we do business in promoting school readiness for all of Virginia’s children,” he concluded.

The School Readiness Report Card can be viewed in its entirety at www.virginiareportcard.com.

 

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About the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation: VECF creates results-oriented partnerships to ensure that young children are healthy and prepared for school, life and workforce success. To learn more about VECF and the Smart Beginnings initiative, visit www.vecf.org.

Media Contact: Sara Hunt, SaraHuntPR@gmail.com, 804-994-1120

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