Fewer than half of Nevada’s children attend preschool and kindergarten, the lowest percentage in the nation. As a result, many children are not prepared to succeed in elementary school. School readiness has taken on added significance in Nevada as budget shortfalls exacerbate the challenges already facing Nevada schools.
In the first of a series of education policy briefs from The Lincy Institute at UNLV, Lincy scholar Sonya Horsford examines state early childhood education programs and offers recommendations for policy makers, educators and families.
“Ensuring children are prepared to enter school ready to learn requires readiness at multiple stakeholder levels,” Horsford wrote in the report. “Ready children require ready educators, ready families, ready schools, ready communities, and ready systems.”
The report also notes areas in which Nevada is making strides to better align agencies responsible for early education and K-12 programs. New efforts include initiating a statewide Kindergarten Entry Assessment in 2014 and launching a bridge initiative with coordinators of preschool and early elementary programs.
Among the report’s recommendations:
- Establish an Office of Early Learning to prioritize childhood issues in Nevada, following similar success in Western states
- Coordinate multiple groups and stakeholders to work collaboratively on one statewide agenda
- Improve and connect data collection on early childhood education into a statewide repository
- Demonstrate links from high quality early childhood education to K-12 success on to college and career readiness
“Nevada needs to move away from fragmented and underfunded programs toward systems-level change that is comprehensive, coordinated, and accountable to outcomes for Nevada’s children,” Horsford wrote.
Sonya Horsford is the senior resident scholar of education at The Lincy Institute at UNLV.
UNLV is a doctoral-degree-granting institution of more than 27,000 students and 2,900 faculty and staff. Founded in 1957, the university offers more than 220 undergraduate, master's and doctoral degree programs. UNLV is located on a 332-acre campus in dynamic Southern Nevada and is classified in the category of Research Universities (high research activity) by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.