Kindergarten: Poverty and preparedness

Do kindergartners from poorer households face a tougher transition to school?

The statistics say yes, according to Boise School District Don Coberly, who crunched some of those numbers on his blog last week.

Don Coberly square
Don Coberly

In a nutshell, children in poorer neighborhoods tend to score lower on their first Idaho Reading Indicator exam — given to kindergartners in the fall. Kindergartners from more affluent neighborhoods tend to score better on the fall IRI.

Two examples from Coberly’s research:

At Van Buren elementary school in Caldwell, 91 percent of kindergartners qualify for free or reduced price lunch, and 23 percent read at grade level in the fall of 2013.

At Boise’s Hidden Springs elementary school, 6 percent of kindergartners qualified for lunch subsidies, and 82 percent read at grade level in the fall of 2013.

“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,” said Coberly.

Rep. Hy Kloc, D-Boise, presented a preschool pilot bill during the 2014 legislative session. It received a hearing in the House Education Committee, but went no farther.


Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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