Education funding helping niche group of students find success

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Published: Nov. 30, 2021 at 2:22 PM EST
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LESLIE COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - The Kentucky General Assembly and Save the Children partner to improve math and literacy skills in early childhood education.

Some students find themselves below standards in both disciplines, but not so far behind that they qualify for traditional assistance programs. Funding through the Joint Education Committee boosted academic success among this niche group of students despite pandemic-related disruptions.

Rhonda Sizemore, the Program Coordinator for Save the Children within Leslie County Schools, saw the program launch in 2018.

”When they came in and they took on the reading program in our elementary schools we saw our kids MAP scores increase drastically,” she said.

According to data reported by Save the Children, students who participated in the programs showed growth equivalents of two additional months of regular school and achieved greater literacy gains than their peers nationwide.

“It’s been a true pleasure to see the positive growth and long-term impact in four Leslie County elementary schools,” said Republican Representative Derek Lewis of House District 90. “Our local community is benefitting from this investment on all levels. By making learning fun for children, this program makes a difference daily on kids and families throughout the year.”

The bump in results stem from activities ranging from early childhood and summer education strategies to literacy programs and out-of-class services for parents.

”Whether we’re talking jump start programs where these kids are coming in and getting two weeks of on-hand training, or talking about after school meals for kids, they really do it all,” said Rep. Lewis.

”They were helping their families with food, clothing, toys, books,” added Sizemore. “It was every week we were getting some kind of gift-in-kind products.”

According to research from Rep. Lewis, academic readiness and success hinges on early vocabulary skills. In the early childhood program, 94 percent of 5-year-olds scored at or above a normal range.

“It’s a testament to what we’re doing,” said Rep. Lewis. “It’s reassurance that we’re doing the right thing. We’re on the right track.”

The General Assembly prioritized education in 2021 with record-high dollar amount in per-pupil funding, resources for Family Resource Youth Service Centers and a one-time investment of $140 million to cover the cost of full-day kindergarten.

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