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Early Works Update, Spring to Summer 2014


earlyworks logoEarl Boyles Elementary:
Preschool Planning. Approximately 70 families of 3- and 4-year-old children completed their Earl Boyles preschool application in May. The 90 preschool spots available in the new Early Learning Wing are nearly filled. Educators are excited to be part of building a system at Earl Boyles that seamlessly aligns early childhood with the elementary years. More than 50 candidates applied for the two available preschool teaching positions, and the final teaching team includes a mix of expertise in kindergarten, Head Start, and Early Childhood Special Education.
Family Engagement. The 2013-14 school year focused on making Parents United systems sustainable and building leadership. 2014-15 will focus on increasing birth-to-8 family engagement and health services in the new Earl Boyles Neighborhood Center.
Health. Early Works partners launched a Health Committee this spring and are preparing for a Community Health Assessment. The assessment will ultimately inform the visioning process for the Neighborhood Center, which will open this fall.


Yoncalla Elementary:
Building Community. Yoncalla hosted a successful Dr. Seuss night with 327 attendees that had the dual purpose of increasing the number of families that see the school as a place they are welcome and connecting families to needed services. The school hosted a smaller Geography Night in June that drew 100 attendees to involve families in student learning. Local leadership is already planning for the 2014-15 school year.
Family Engagement. The Family Room, located at the school, is open and hosting programs for families. Becca Pope, the AmeriCorps staffer who manages the Family Room, is hosting weekly playgroups for families with children birth to 5, and has had 10 families participate so far. She's also facilitating volunteer opportunities to support the K-3 teachers and bringing in guest speakers for families with small children and K-3 teachers.
Child Care and Early Education. The child care/educator work group has agreed to ensure local preschool and child care providers in Yoncalla receive professional development on child assessments that could inform their work with children.

Early Works Blogs

  • Earl Boyles kindergartners shine on Oregon Kindergarten Assessment

    EB-kinder-indicators-4.7.15Recently released results from this year’s Oregon Kindergarten Assessment demonstrate a promising upward trend for kindergartners at Earl Boyles Elementary in Portland’s David Douglas School District. Overall, Earl Boyles’ entering kindergartners outperformed their peers in the David Douglas School District and across the state on most dimensions of the kindergarten assessment. The assessment scores were even higher for students who had attended the Earl Boyles preschool program the year prior to kindergarten entry.

    This year was the second year that the kindergarten assessment was administered statewide, and it has its challenges and critics. It is not a comprehensive measure of all skills that we know children need to thrive, and state leaders, the Children’s Institute and others are working to improve it.

    But the assessment does provide the state and districts a consistent tool to identify entering kindergartners’ skills in specific areas of development that can help predict later academic success. Those areas include: early literacy, early numeracy, interpersonal skills, and self-regulation. Prior to the implementation of the kindergarten assessment, the state did not have a tool that could be used to identify opportunity gaps in children’s exposure to rich early learning experiences. Nor did it have a tool that measured progress over time.

    The results of the kindergarten assessment this year at Earl Boyles indicate that the school’s preschool is showing some initial success in preparing children for kindergarten, one of the intended outcomes of the Children’s Institute’s Early Works initiative.

    And positive results are coming from evaluations beyond the kindergarten assessment. We also are seeing positive findings from the external evaluation of Early Works that Portland State University’s Center for the Improvement of Child and Family Services is conducting. Those findings align with dozens of rigorous studies of other early education programs that show that a year or two of center-based early childhood education for 3- and 4-year-olds – provided in a developmentally appropriate program – improve children’s early language, literacy, and mathematics skills.

    Research shows that access to high-quality preschool is particularly beneficial for low-income children and children of color, who often start kindergarten behind their peers. That was a primary reason the Children’s Institute selected Earl Boyles as the first Early Works site. Eighty-five percent of Earl Boyles students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches and the school is one of the most diverse in the state with its students speaking 17 different languages. Ultimately, the goal of the Early Works initiative is to close the achievement gap for these young students.

    “Kindergarten teachers are reporting that the incoming kindergartners this year are more socially and academically ready than ever before,” says Ericka Guynes, Earl Boyles principal. “This year the teachers have been able to move through the kindergarten curriculum at a much faster pace and are getting to academic areas earlier in the year that they typically don’t reach until the very end.”

    The progress is showing up in this year’s assessment data; it’s not just anecdotal, Guynes says.

    “Our kindergarten benchmark data is at the highest level it has ever been,” she says.

    By winter, 73 percent of the Earl Boyles kindergarten students were meeting benchmarks. In previous years, this number had been closer to 40 percent. Eighty percent is the target.

    Despite the room for growth, it is incredibly positive and heartening to see that the preschool does appear to be moving Earl Boyles students in the right direction and setting these children on the path toward future success. We look forward to seeing what the numbers look like next year when virtually all of the incoming Earl Boyles kindergartners will have had this rich early learning experience.

    These data further support the Children’s Institute’s 2015 legislative agenda. We are actively advocating for an additional $30 million investment in high-quality preschool programs over the next two years to serve an additional 1,500 low-income Oregon children each year. Our legislative agenda is driven by the evidence. We know that high-quality preschool works and we want more children from under-served communities statewide to have the opportunities that Earl Boyles students have had.

    Read more

  • A Cat in the Hat … and 1,750 books on the shelf

    Dr. Seuss night at Yoncalla ElementaryIn its continuing effort to improve family engagement and promote literacy in the community, Yoncalla Elementary hosted its third annual Dr. Seuss Night on March 5. The event has grown exponentially and Yoncalla families look forward to a fun night for kids and adults.

    The night is a perfect example of the family and community connections that Early Works at Yoncalla Elementary is trying to foster. The people and organizations who are part of the Early Works initiative – the Children's Institute, the Ford Family Foundation and Yoncalla school and school district leaders – all understand that children do better in school when their parents, and their community, are engaged in their learning.

    This year there was an extra reason to celebrate at Dr. Seuss Night. Yoncalla Elementary, along with the B-4 School Community Center (located at the school), participated in a reading challenge during the month leading up to Dr. Seuss Night. Yoncalla Elementary students were challenged to read books or book chapters and parents with children in early childhood programs at the B-4 School Community Center were challenged to read books to their children.

    Reading was tracked on forms that were turned in to Yoncalla's Title I teacher, Shawna Bradley. All totaled, 1,750 books or book chapters were read, far surpassing the last reading challenge total of 1,380. As promised, two special guests were in attendance at Dr. Seuss Night to help celebrate this wonderful accomplishment. Matt Templeman, the news anchor for KEZI-TV in Eugene, along with Olaf, the snowman from the Disney movie Frozen, participated in the evening's festivities.

    Families were treated to games, goodies and arts and crafts. Each classroom in the building was decorated and had activities around specific books by Dr. Seuss. In the school's Early Works Family Room, The Foot Book was the theme and attendees participated in a 'book walk.' Yoncalla Mayor Jerry Cross read several Dr. Seuss stories to a captivated audience.

    Additionally, several social service and family-oriented community providers hosted activities and gave information about resources to families in attendance. In an area where families often report feeling isolated, connecting families to services has become one of the important goals of the evening, and of Early Works in general.

    The Cat in the Hat (also known as Yoncalla Schools Superintendent Jan Zarate) floated through each of the buildings. Meanwhile, Thing One and Thing Two (Yoncalla High School special education teacher Jerry Fauci and Matt Templeman) led bingo, passed out popcorn and posed for pictures. This small town knows how to celebrate reading in a big way! And the Children's Institute loves being a part of it every year.

    Read more

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