Lorain City Schools has received more high marks for preschool programs.
Admiral King Elementary School, Washington Elementary and Palm Elementary recently received a Step Up to Quality Five-Star Award for a perfect score from the state for preschool education.
“It was all three of our newest preschools that received the five-star recently, the Ohio preschool rating system,” said Scott Dieter, director of Early Childhood Education for Lorain Schools. “It looks at different factors like curriculum, staff and interaction with families to determine the rating.”
Dieter said the rating system helps to paint an overall picture of the quality of the preschool program.
“Earning the five-star rating shows that the preschool will give students the right start to their education,” he said. “It shows that the staff is highly qualified, and that the preschool is able to communicate well with the students’ families.
"The intention of the rating system is to hold the preschools in Ohio to a high-quality standard. This is something we now have in all 10 of our programs (every elementary school in Lorain has a preschool program).”
Dieter said the quality of the preschool program has really been there from the beginning.
“It was a really nice program with a few buildings when I came in two years ago,” he said. “Since my time here, we have expanded into all the elementary school buildings.
"It’s nice to tell families that they have a quality option, for preschool, right in the building that they are going to send their child for kindergarten.”
Dieter said preschool has come a long way over the past few years.
“In Lorain’s case, preschool was often concentrated into one building,” he said. “There used to be a charge for tuition. The way it was structured wasn’t accessible to families because of the tuition and the location.
"A few years later, it has become more accessible for families. We stopped charging tuition, and we have two rooms in each elementary school for preschool. A preschool is now conveniently located in your neighborhood.”
Amy Graves, turnaround principal at Admiral King Elementary School, said the rating system is extensive.
“It’s pretty intense,” Graves said. “The state comes in and puts together different documents; if the program has the right rotations, if the rest times are correct, they look at everything.
"We added the program last year, so it’s pretty big that they were able to achieve the five-star in a short amount of time.”
Graves said having the preschool program in the elementary school is a big advantage for the students.
“It gets them in the building, and they are used to the school by the time kindergarten starts for them,” she said. “They get used to the teachers, and they start to develop language skills ahead of time.
"It prepares them very well.”
Kyle Ilcisko, preschool teacher at Admiral King, said each day has the students learning a variety of things.
“We start out with some opening writing and reading skills,” Ilcisko said. “We really do a whole literacy thing with reading stories and making sure they have a good grasp of that.
"We also have engaging free play where they engage with peers, work on turn-taking and improve those social skills. We then have a couple of snack periods, a rest period, and we have an academic period before they leave."
Ilcisko said there is a list of things she wants the students to learn by the time they move to the next level.
"At the end of their time in preschool, whether they are in the program for two years or one year, is that they know beginning level math, reading and writing skills," she said. "We also want to instill in them the importance of treating others with respect."
Each fall, all kindergartners in Ohio take the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA).
According to the Ohio Department of Education website, the purpose of this assessment is to measure “a child’s readiness for engaging with instruction aligned to the kindergarten standards.”
Lorain School's analysis of their Fall 2019 assessment data led to the following conclusions:
• Children who attended Lorain School's pre-K were about three times as likely to be ready for kindergarten as their peers who did not attend the district's pre-K.
• Pre-K attendance rate had a significant impact on assessment scores. Over 40 percent of students with strong pre-K attendance (95 percent or better) demonstrated readiness on the assessment, compared to less than 10 percent of students with poor attendance (80 percent or worse).