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Interventions abound: DL school district has low kindergarten readiness percentage, works on interventions to improve

Preliminary data is in for the 2017-18 school year, and of the 209 incoming kindergarteners screened for school readiness, only 34 percent were testing at a level deeming them "ready" for kindergarten.

"...so that's lower than we'd hoped," said Education Director Renee Kerzman.

She was quick to note, though, that just because 66 percent of incoming kindergarteners are in need of interventions, that doesn't mean they shouldn't be in the classroom--there's a difference between kindergarten readiness and a student with special needs; though, the number of special needs students is still high--and seems to just be getting higher--in the district. The preliminary data also showed a high percentage of title 1 students.

These numbers are concerning when taking into account the fact that 84.5 percent of the incoming kindergarteners attended preschool.

"Some may think that (number) is great," said Kerzman, adding that they still want to push for higher preschool attendance.

"We continue to see (issues with) concepts about print," said Kerzman, adding that print concepts (the right way to open a book, being able to point to a word on the page) is an aspect incoming kindergarteners are tested on to determine their school readiness. "That is our weakest area over and over again, so we have to continue to work on that with students."

"How could they go to preschool and not know which way a book opens?" asked Board Member Amy Erickson, a bit shocked at the statistics.

The district just isn't quite sure how that can happen, whether it's the invasion of technology (iPads and e-readers) in society or what, but they're working on different intervention strategies, including a (fairly) new instructional coaching strategy.

Over the last six years instructional coaches have been entering classrooms and helping students and teachers alike learn how to learn and teach in a more effective manner.

This year, the group of coaches is up to four members: Pam Daly (sixth year coaching), Jill Perkins (fifth year), Rhonda Fode (fourth year), and Keith Eckhoff (first year).

The group presented to the school board about what they do, outlining some of their goals: 1) providing resources and classroom support 2) facilitating learning by mentoring, specializing in curriculum, being a school leader, and all around instilling a yearning for lifelong learning in students.

Their research showed that most people who had received interventions from an education coach said their efforts were 90 percent effective and helpful, and the district is looking to continue this practice, hoping to mend education gaps and improve kindergarten, postsecondary, and career readiness.

Among other business, Superintendent Doug Froke also expressed concern about the slowly but surely rising student population, particularly at the middle school, estimating there will be 865 students in the building next year if including the fifth graders.

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