Education is the foundation for a good life, setting the individual on a path of personal fulfillment, economic security and societal contribution.
United Way of Reno County is focusing on helping children and youth achieve their potential.
- 60% of today's kindergartners start school behind, significantly contributing to difficulties throughout their school experience
- 70% of fourth-graders can't read at grade level
- Nationally, nearly 1 in 4 students in high school today won't graduate
We are highlighting three points in students' lives that help predict success in school and later as adults: readiness to enter kindergarten, reading proficiency in fourth grade and on-time graduation from high school.
Readiness to Succeed in School
Readiness to succeed in school means that children enter kindergarten developmentally on track in areas of literacy and in social, emotional and cognitive skills. One way to track pre-literacy and cognitive skills is by looking at the percentage of children ages 3 to 5 who have all or most of four commonly recognized school readiness skills:
1. recognizing letters
2. counting to 20 or higher
3. writing their name
4. and reading or pretending to read
Data from the National Houshold Education Survey show progress, but less than 40 percent of kids enter school with the skills needed to succeed in kindergarten and beyond. Those without these skills are starting with a disadvantage and are less likely to catch up. United Way of Reno County supports organizations such as Early Education Center, Healthy Families Hutchinson, and quality daycares that help ready children to succeed.
Academic Achievement in Elementary School
Academic achievement means elementary-age students are prepared to succeed in later grades. If children are reading at grade level in fourth grade, they have a much better chance of handling more complex assignments in later grades. And if the are doing well, the chances are better, too, that they feel confident they can handle middle and high school. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, reading proficiency has improved over the last 10 years, but still less than one-third of the nation's fourth graders are rated "proficient" in reading.
While United Way of Reno County is not inside the school walls where most of the academic learning process occurs, we are on the perimitter helping children through mentorship programs such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters and youth support programs such as Boys and Girls Club, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and YMCA. Many of these progams offer youth assistance with their social and academic needs, including homework assistance. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Reno County also offers a Bigs-in-Schools program where mentors assist Littles in school. Additionally, First Call for Help provides a back-to-school program where low-income families can get assistance with school supplies.
On-Time Graduation Rates
The percentage of freshman who enter high school and graduate four years later increased by a few points since 1997 to about 74%. But that still means 1 million students each year fail to get their diploma on time, as reported by the National Center on Education Statistics.
That number is unacceptably high. Dropping out means these young people will more than likely never earn enough to make ends meet. It means their children will likely be similarly disadvantaged and perhaps start kindergarten unprepared, thus perpetuating the cycle.
One way in which United Way of Reno County is helping teens graduate is when a teen pregnancy occurs. By funding daycare scholarships through the Hutchinson High School Daycare and Hutchinson Community College Daycare Scholarship program, United Way is making a way for teen parents to finish their high school or college education.
The Summary Measurement:
Young adults, age 18 to 24, who are making a successful transition from high school to the working world. They may be in college, in a training program or working, acquiring experience they need to succeed as adults. The measure for this is the percentage of 18 to 24 year olds who are neither working nor in school. The indicator should trend downward: that is, a decrease in the indicator means an increase in the percentage of young adults productively engaged after high school. While the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey shows a slight improvement over the past decade, too many young adults - more than one in seven - are neither working nor atending school, even part time. When they fall between the cracks, our country and local communities suffer the consequences. These are the people that are more likely to perpetually, and often unnecessarily, rely on government assistance and social services through adulthood.