Research shows that good preschools improve children’s performance later in school and life more than any other educational intervention. With this in mind, five preschool sites at the Long Beach Unified School District’s Child Development Centers earned a $3.5 million federal Early Reading First grant two years ago to support students’ literacy. The grant is already getting results.
LBUSD recently received data comparing the results of Early Reading First programs across the nation. The results show that Long Beach preschool students outperformed the national average by 19 percent on gains in vocabulary knowledge. On measures of letter knowledge, Long Beach preschoolers exceeded the national average by 15 percent.
Last school year, the first group of Early Reading First preschooler participants completed their kindergarten year in LBUSD with 94 percent of these students reading at or above grade level on the district’s Benchmark Book Assessment by the end of the year compared to 70 percent for the rest of the district.
The reading grant serves LBUSD’s state-subsidized preschools for low income families, providing three years of intensive, research-based professional development and coaching for teachers, plus family literacy activities.
This year the Child Development Centers will train the rest of their teachers on the use of these effective instructional strategies to increase the academic achievement of their more than 1,100 at-risk preschoolers.
Contributing to the early literacy effort has been Long Beach Rotary. During the past two years, Rotary has donated thousands of books to the Child Development Centers, beefing up classroom libraries and giving each child a book of their own to keep.