The Early Childhood Education (ECE) initiative — a four-year collaboration of three Orcas Island state-licensed preschools, private funders, and expert advisors — has produced objective results including universal access to at least 12 hours per week of preschool education for local 3-5 year olds, significant gains in teaching quality and in student learning and development.
To date, the initiative has served over 100 preschool students and families in financial need and supported over 20 early childhood educators (all educators in the three schools) to improve teaching practices.
In 2014, the ECE Initiative found there were approximately 20 three- to five-year-old students who were either NOT ENROLLED in preschool OR currently enrolled in hours
insufficient enough (12 hours minimum) to make an impact on outcomes. As a result of the Access investment, more students were enrolled, but it meant more high-risk students entered the pool every year of the Initiative and stayed in the pool. (IEP, ESL and below poverty-level students.)
Initial evidence provided by our Orcas Island Public School colleagues indicated that almost half of students entering Kindergarten were “at risk” on a nationally recognized literacy assessment (Dibbles.) We asked whether improving Quality — in tandem with Access — in our state-licensed pre-schools would make a difference. By Fall 2016, Dibbles assessment results reported 85% of students from these preschools entered Kindergarten having scored at Kindergarten-ready levels on the state-approved literacy assessment. By Fall 2017, the school replaced the Dibbles literacy assessment with the now standard assessment tool, WAKids, which found 100% were ready in literacy.
Then by 2015, the ECE Initiative began to work toward the goal that 95 percent of Orcas K-bound students would enter OISD kindergarten-ready in 6 of 6 domains, which required an investment in teaching quality. In 2012-13 (prior to ECE Initiative investments) only 77.3% were ready in 6 of 6. By 2017 87.5% were ready in 6 of 6 DESPITE the added population of high-risk students now enrolled in the preschools. (See WaKids table.)