HOUSTON — The Hardin-Houston Local School District is celebrating the completion of the first pilot year of the Young Five’s Kindergarten Program. The first year of the two-year kindergarten program provides a curriculum that blends what would normally be a third year of pre-school for the five-year-old candidate with intensive kindergarten readiness language and number skills that more adequately prepares the student for the first full year of regular kindergarten.
Although this Young Five’s program has been used successfully in dozens of districts around the state for many years, Hardin-Houston is the first district in Shelby County to establish the innovative program. During the initial planning process that began in during the 2015-16 school year, Hardin-Houston Superintendent Larry Claypool and Elementary Principal Sara Roseberry met with Shelby Hills DD preschool administration to collaborate on how best to create a seamless transition for the district’s early childhood learners into kindergarten. Shelby Hills administrative staff recognized the benefit of the program and began presenting the Young Five’s Classroom at their Sidney facility and the satellite Houston location to those parents who had students that might be potential candidates for the program.
“The reason district administration sought out the two-year program was to address the many students who have enrolled in Hardin-Houston kindergarten in the past, and for whatever reason did not have the necessary preschool skills to allow them to function at a level necessary to be successful in a regular kindergarten classroom.” said H-H Superintendent Larry Claypool. “Our goal was to be able to get these early learners help before they made it to kindergarten and therefore give them a solid academic foundation for the rest of their educational careers.”
“The best way to ensure that students are prepared for the rigorous reading, writing, and math standards and meet Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee is to provide them with a strong foundation. This program offers a great alternative to parents whose children are not ready for kindergarten,” said Elementary Principal Sara Roseberry.
The two-year program works like this. In the spring of the school year, all district-wide five-year-olds go through a kindergarten screening process. Those students whose birthdates are before Aug. 1 and are identified as socially immature and/or may display lower level academic preparation for kindergarten due to minimal or no pre-school experience are evaluated and identified by school employees as potential candidates for the program.
In the 2016-17 academic school year, 14 five-year-old children participated in the Young Five’s start-up year.
“Those students on the roster who may have initially scored in the lower percentiles when screened last April 2016 for admittance into the program, by the end of this school year showed dramatic academic improvement. Results reported the average across the board student growth was 60 percentile points, which was higher than anyone had previously projected.
Young Five’s kindergarten teacher Jill Burks, who is a 12-year kindergarten veteran, was impressed with how quickly each child was able to grasp the new reading and counting skills, while working at their own pace.
“I am absolutely amazed by how much each child has grown this year! Essentially, by providing these young kids with the gift of time and a curriculum designed around their needs, they have been able to “bloom.” Furthermore, these students are better prepared for the rest of their educational career,” said Burks.
“When we looked at starting this program over a year ago, we were hopeful that this would provide the participating students a strong foundation to their educational journey. Results from this first year have been promising and we look forward to continuing success with this program,” said Board of Education President Steve Mowery.
“The district is anticipating an excellent second year,” Claypool said, “We’re excited about our new upcoming Young Five’s candidates for this fall and the academic successes this program will prepare them for in the future.”