School News from the Superintendent’s Office
Laguna Beach Unified School District
Early learning: Kindergarten readiness sees continuous improvement in Laguna Beach
LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. – The latest Early Development Index (EDI) data shows the percentage of children entering Laguna Beach schools “kindergarten ready” continues to rise. Locally, 65.8 percent of students in the Laguna Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) are entering school ready for kindergarten*, higher than the Orange County rate of 52.9 percent.
Developed over the course of nearly 30 years, the EDI is a population-based measure of early child development and school readiness in five key domains: physical health, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive skills, and communication skills and general knowledge. Administered for the first time in 2014 and every other year since, EDI data identifies how our community’s children are doing, what programs and opportunities are helping and where additional resources need to be deployed. Data reports indicate significant improvements in the two sub-domain areas that have been the Laguna Beach Early Learning Community Task Force priority areas: gross and fine motor skills and communication and general knowledge.
“Although progress has been made, there is always more work to do,” said LBUSD Director of Special Education Irene White. She continued, “We have decreased the number of students not ready in both areas but we have a long way to go before we can say 100 percent of children are ready. The 2018 EDI report identifies four areas where we need improvement, which will be prioritized by the Taskforce.”
The most recent data indicates that 23 percent of children are not ready (down from 48 percent in 2016) in fine and gross motor skills, and 14 percent are somewhat ready. Skills in this domain include the ability to hold writing utensils such as pencils, crayons or paintbrushes; manipulate objects; climb stairs and maintain energy throughout the school day.
A second area targeted for growth with Laguna Beach children is communication skills and general knowledge. The 2018 EDI reports that 22 percent of children are not ready (down from 49 percent in 2016) and 21 percent are somewhat ready. Skills in this domain include a child’s ability to use language effectively in English to tell a story; communicate their own needs in a way understandable to adults and peers; ability to understand on first try what is being said to him/her; ability to take part in imaginative play; articulate clearly as well show adequate general knowledge.
The third area is Prosocial and Helping Behavior and the fourth is Overall Social Competence. These areas measure a child’s ability to show respect for others and property, demonstrate self-control as well as follow rules and instructions.
“I was so thrilled to see the improvements in the domains we hoped to make a difference in which are Gross and Fine Motor Skills and Communication and General Knowledge,” said Anneliese Schools Willowbrook Preschool and K1 Administrative Director Lisa Thomas. “It shows that when we all come to the table we can move mountains. All of the members of the task force are truly amazing advocates for early learning. This has been a very enriching experience for all,” she concluded.
The task force provides many services to the community such as parent education events, professional development trainings at local preschools, free developmental screenings, referrals to local community resources and an opportunity to enroll in Learning Link, an interactive center for parents and children ages 2 ½ to 5 years old promotes early childhood development and school readiness.
“A community-wide effort is necessary to improve our early childhood service systems,” said White. “We can change the outcomes by informing the community and providing families with opportunities that can help children build the necessary skills to be ready for kindergarten,” she concluded.
Years of research show that early school readiness is a critical piece to setting children on the best possible trajectory for success in school and in life. On February 10, 2020, the public is invited to join the Laguna Beach Early Learning Community Task Force for a viewing of the film “No Small Matter,” a feature-length documentary film that brings public attention to the human capacity for early intelligence and the potential for quality early care and education to benefit America’s social and economic future. The showing will take place at Mission Hospital Laguna Beach at 6:30 p.m. Light dinner and popcorn will be provided.