School Ready


The social, emotional and academic benefits of preschool attendance are becoming increasingly well understood across the nation.  Aspire is focusing its first phase of work on the second identified outcome: children enter school ready to learn.

Using continuous improvement methodologies, Aspire chose the State of Ohio Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA) as the measure that would tell us if we were successfully preparing children for school.  This measure assesses the following:  language and literacy; cognition and general knowledge; social and emotional development; physical and motor development; and approaches to learning.  The KRA results show that more than 65% of Lucas County children are NOT ready for kindergarten.

Aspire’s next step was to identify the root causes of what was working and what was not.  This required gathering quantitative data from a variety of existing resources, as well as qualitative data, which did not exist.  We held many community café’s and summits with parents and teachers to gather that data and better understand the “why” behind the data.

All of this work has been supported by our Kindergarten Readiness Network, a group of individuals impacted by or impacting children’s preparedness for kindergarten.  For more information on the Kindergarten Readiness Network, click here.

“Aspire’s research shows there is a clear lack of understanding of the impact that preschool has on children in relation to their social and emotional development.”

Kevin Dalton                                      President, Toledo Federation of Teachers

Other findings include:

  • Over 40% of children entering Lucas County schools were reported as being economically disadvantaged. See map below showing the number of preschoolers and percentage of children living in poverty in Lucas County.
  • The variation across districts within Lucas County is significant. The range of students underprepared when entering kindergarten went from a low of 0% to more than 77%.
  • The kindergarten entry assessment data indicated that children who were economically disadvantaged scored an average of 33% lower than their non-economically disadvantaged peers.
population density 0-5 county
child poverty in entire county

We started on the East Side in the Waite neighborhood

Aspire began working in the Waite neighborhood of Toledo to gather both quantitative and qualitative data to understand what is happening and why it is happening.

The elementary schools that feed into Waite High School include Birmingham, East Broadway, Garfield, Marshall, Navarre, Oakdale, and Raymer. The student scores from Fall 2015 were as follows:

45% of entering students came to Kindergarten without appropriate knowledge and skills to be successful in a Kindergarten program (Emerging Readiness).

This means:

  • These students will require intensive intervention in order to be successful
  • It is likely that these students will not master Kindergarten content in the same time frame as students who were approaching or demonstrating readiness
  • These students are at risk for always being behind in their academic endeavors


37% of entering students came to Kindergarten with some knowledge and skills needed to be successful in the Kindergarten program (Approaching Readiness).

This means:

  • These students will need moderate intervention in order to be successful in Kindergarten
  • With consistent attendance and appropriate interventions, these students are likely to move through elementary school at a typical pace, but may experience additional struggles as they progress.


18% of entering students came to Kindergarten with appropriate knowledge and skills to be successful in the Kindergarten program (Demonstrating Readiness).

This means:

  • With consistent attendance and high quality instruction, these students will likely move through elementary school at a typical pace.

Why were so many children unprepared?

To find out why children are arriving unprepared or underprepared for kindergarten, Aspire hosted a variety of Café Conversations with different stakeholder groups, including:

  • Early Childhood Professionals
  • Preschool Teachers
  • Head Start Teachers/Administrators
  • Early Head Start Teachers/Administrators
  • Kindergarten Teachers/Administrators
  • Parents of Preschool-Age Children
  • Parent of Kindergarten- Age Children
  • In-home child care providers
  • Toledo-Lucas County Librarians
  • Home Visitors
  • Mental Health Professionals

Aspire’s Kindergarten Readiness Network felt these Café Conversations would be the best way to begin to identify the root cause of why children were or were not prepared for Kindergarten.  Through this qualitative data gathering process, we discussed barriers, needs, gaps in programming and service, supports, success and future plans.  To read more about our findings, click here.