Let's Get Kindergarten Assistants in Every Classroom Across the Valley!
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Research shows that early intervention can change a child's developmental trajectory and improve outcomes for children, families, and for our communities too. Research also shows that early intervention is more effective and less costly than remediation for students that have fallen behind and that are at risk or unlikely to reach appropriate grade level goals without intensive targeted support.
The transition from Preschool (or for children with no Preschool experience) to Kindergarten can be extremely challenging for young children and their families. Most students leave a preschool environment of a 1:8 ratio and begin their Kindergarten experience at a ratio of 1 teacher for every 25+ students. Families who previously experienced home visits from teachers, and daily check-ins at pick up and drop off are rarely able to have in the moment critical conversations with teachers about the needs of their children or concerns that may arise from day to day.
If schools could add a Teaching Assistant to Kindergarten Classrooms across the valley, we could not only reduce the ratio of teacher to students from 1:25 to as low as 1:12, but we could also better meet the needs of children and their families on a daily basis. This model has been piloted at a couple of schools in Eagle County thanks to a Kindergarten Transition Grant, and what we are finding is that children are getting their needs met in ways that we have never been able to meet their needs before. Here are only a small number of examples of how we are better able to meet the needs of our children:
-We can better support students social emotional needs without having to interrupt instruction. If needs arise, there is another adult available to support that student/multiple students in refocusing their attention and solving problems. Kids need a lot of guidance as they grow socially and emotionally, and we have the ability to address in the moment opportunities to teach children the social emotional skills they need to make friends, learn empathy, treat others with kindness and respect, how to solve problems, advocate for themselves and their friends, and more.
-We can better differentiate instruction to meet the needs of kids coming with a wide variety of educational experiences, academic abilities, and social emotional needs through more adult support during whole group instruction, individual work, and small group instruction as well. In fact, we can double (at least) the number of targeted small group instruction that children receive in a week. If we can target instruction to individual needs, and provide LOTS of opportunity for practice, we can work more diligently towards closing the achievement gap! We are better able to help students that are behind catch up, and those that are on track or above excel.
-Students are safer and teachers are better able to manage behaviors with more supervision not only during class time, but also during recess and lunch (typically times of the day with low supervision), and specials too. During specials (Music, Art, PE, and Technology), when teachers typically see 300 kids in a week, and see Kindergarten students for 1 hour a week, they may not be able to develop meaningful relationships with kids quickly. With a Teacher's Assistant there is always a consistent and additional teacher with students that can guide and implement behavior plans and strategies that are used in the classroom daily, helping all children experience more success.
-Increased quality of instruction due to support in planning and preparation, ability to plan for more engaging lessons that may include varieties of groupings of students, tasks that allow students to explore and engage with materials and content in different ways that require more hands on monitoring, additional adults to circulate and prompt students to push their thinking to higher levels, additional adults to circulate and provide students with individualized support and in the moment guidance and feedback, and more.
If a child is below grade level when they leave Kindergarten, their First Grade teacher may need to provide as much as 30 minutes of additional targeted intervention EVERY DAY to teach them missing Kindergarten content in addition to new First Grade content. If that child leaves First Grade below grade level, their Second Grade teachers could need to provide them with as much as 60 minutes of additional targeted intervention DAILY to catch them up and keep them up with peers. And this number only grows. Please consider signing this petition to show your support of adding Teacher's Assistants to Kindergarten classes across the valley. Let's make a difference in the lives of children, families, and our community EARLY! So we are not paying for it later.
Thank you in advance for your support!
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