Education (Elementary and Secondary)
Sweetman, Sara, B.
Early Childhood Education; Jumpstart; Preschool Intervention; Children; Preschool; Under-resourced
In today’s society, many children attend some type of pre-kindergarten service, but the importance of such programs are often overlooked. Recent studies have shown that children from low-income households and communities can benefit greatly by taking part in pre-kindergarten services (Magnuson, Meyers, Ruhm, & Waldfogel, 2004; Magnuson & Shager, 2010). These children in particular tend to fall within the kindergarten readiness gap, which can be defined as a six-month gap between children from disadvantaged communities and their more advanced peers as they begin kindergarten (Magnuson & Shager, 2010). Students who fall within the gap fall behind and stay behind their more affluent peers as schooling continues.
As a student at the University of Rhode Island, I have taken part in the Jumpstart program for the past three years. This program allows college students to work with preschool aged children in under-resourced areas to help benefit their education. I have completed the trainings, learned about the curriculum, and have served in three different low-income preschool classrooms to implement Jumpstart services to students. Th rough my experiences, I have found that there is much more to the program than just working with these students twice a week; it serves to help the students be prepared for the future. With this realization, I decided to explore the program in depth to discover how to fulfil its goals most effectively.
This paper aims to discover where the University of Rhode Island’s Jumpstart program excels and where it can improve in order to aid low-income students and close the kindergarten readiness gap. Students’ pre- and post- scores, as well as their adjacent program partner feedback from fifteen different preschools in under-resourced areas around Rhode Island were analyzed to determine where the program’s strengths and weaknesses exist. Th rough this analysis, I found that while all students’ academic areas increased, there is varying growth in each of the 15 areas between the 12 preschools where Jumpstart serves. With these findings, I have identified where the program should increase its focus during trainings and implementation in order to lessen, and optimally close, the kindergarten readiness gap for students from low-income communities.