Study: Pre-K skills affect future math success
BY KIM ARCHER World Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
11/27/12 at 7:14 AM
Read the article from The American Prospect magazine.
Four-year-old Tyjanae Johnson doesn't know it now, but how well she masters counting objects in prekindergarten will affect her future math performance.
Just learning to recite numbers isn't enough to prepare children for math success later in life, according to a new research study from the University of Missouri.
"Reciting means saying the numbers from memory in chronological order, whereas counting involves understanding that each item in the set is counted once and that the last number stated is the amount for the entire set," said Louis Manfra, an assistant professor and researcher at MU's Department of Human Development and Family Studies.
The study will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Research in Childhood Education.
Tyjanae attends Union Public Schools' Rosa Parks Early Childhood Center.
The girl's principal, Lynn McClure, said she isn't at all surprised by the study's findings.
"Years ago, basic readiness skills were helping children identify letters, to start to count, to identify colors, shapes. Those are very basic competencies," she said. "But with additional research, now we're learning that 'Hey, that's just not enough.' "
McClure said those basic skills are still important but should be balanced alongside support of "executive function" - the ability to stay on task, plan, organize and delay gratification.
Executive function is a skill linked to later academic success and one that is essential in becoming a productive adult.
McClure said taking the basic skill of counting a step further to counting a set of objects is "a competency that is going to support higher-level math thinking."
The methods used by Rosa Parks and most early-childhood programs are based on the latest research, such as the University of Missouri study.
"This is not just child care, it's really school," McClure said. "We provide authentic (educational) activities for them that occur in their natural play and that are research-based."
Model for early childhood education
In 1998, Oklahoma forged its way as a pioneer in early childhood education by becoming second in the nation to make universal prekindergarten for 4-year-olds available through the public school system.
In an article in the November/December edition of The American Prospect magazine, author Sharon Lerner wrote that Tulsa has been particularly successful by providing comprehensive services through a public/private partnership with the Community Action Project of Tulsa County and the support of local philanthropist George Kaiser.
"The result is that Tulsa has become a sort of Sweden of the Ozarks - a magnet for the country's best early-education providers and researchers and a place where preschool is a routine part of growing up," Lerner wrote.
Despite recently slipping to second in the nation for access to state pre-K for 4-year-olds, the Sooner State is still recognized as a national model for early-childhood education.
In the latest The State of Preschool report by the National Institute for Early Education Research, researchers credited that drop in ranking to a dramatic reduction in state per-pupil spending even as quality standards rise.
Also unique is Oklahoma's requirement that pre-K teachers have both a bachelor's degree and certification in early education.
"In Oklahoma, which doesn't happen everywhere, these teachers are all certified. I think there is an awareness about how important cognitive development is in children's young years," McClure said.
The Rosa Parks program targets children at an even younger age. It accepts children as young as 3 from impoverished families. Poor children are considered more at risk of falling behind academically.
The income requirement exists because there isn't enough funding to open the program to all 3-year-olds.
"I wish that these opportunities were available for everyone and were not just income-based," McClure said. "These (educational strategies) are not just great things for children who are poor, but for all children."
Oklahoma preschool facts
Oklahoma recently slipped to second in the nation from first for access to state pre-K for 4-year-olds. The drop is attributed to a decline in per-pupil state funding amid rising quality standards.
Oklahoma is one of three states to enroll more than 70 percent of 4-year-olds in prekindergarten. Seventy-four percent of the state's 4-year-olds were enrolled in pre-K in 2011.
State spending per child in prekindergarten dropped to $3,461 in 2011 from $4,567 in 2010. That brings Oklahoma's level of investment in pre-K to virtually the same level as 2002.
Source: The State of Preschool 2012 report
Original Print Headline: When it counts
Kim Archer 918-581-8315
With a measuring tape around her wrist, Tyjanae Johnson, 4, laughs as she plays with Jada Jackson, 3, (left) and other students at Rosa Parks Early Childhood Center in Tulsa. JOHN CLANTON / Tulsa World
Teacher Camryn Winters talks with Kevin Murillo Reyes, 3, (center) and other students as they play at Rosa Parks Early Childhood Center in Tulsa. JOHN CLANTON / Tulsa World
Teacher Kara Lowry talks with a student at Rosa Parks Early Childhood Center in Tulsa. JOHN CLANTON / Tulsa World
Students arrange stones with numbers on them at Rosa Parks Early Childhood Center. JOHN CLANTON / Tulsa World