Hamilton County Early Childhood Student Success Network

The Hamilton County Early Childhood Student Success Network (SSN) is focused primarily on kindergarten readiness in Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS). The SSN partners are numerous and diverse, reflecting a district with an enrollment of nearly 35,000 and an annual kindergarten class of more than 2,800 children.

In partnership with CPS and INNOVATIONS of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, the SSN has amassed rich data on kindergarten readiness for five years. The data reveals many things about the readiness of children entering the school district and the importance of interventions during the first five years. Two findings have been most consistent: that quality preschool makes a difference for all children but more so for low-income children, and that children who spend more time in a quality preschool will be better prepared for kindergarten.

The most recent data shows that 53.4 percent of CPS kindergartners were ready for kindergarten compared to only 44 percent four years ago. Of the children who had a documented quality preschool experience, 61.4 percent were considered ready. Quality preschools mattered more for low income children, who outscored their low-income peers without a documented quality preschool experience by 7.4 percentage points compared to a spread of only 3.5 percent among children who were not considered low income. Similarly, children who spent two years in a quality preschool scored 11 percent higher than those with no documented preschool and those who attended consistently scored 22 percent higher than those who attended less frequently. In response to data about quality preschool, Success By 6 conducts monthly “learning circles” for program directors and teachers of preschoolers likely to enter a CPS kindergarten. Using the Bracken Basic Concept Scale, INNOVATIONS staff assesses children in participating teachers’ classrooms in the fall and with network partners (4C for Children, CPS and Cincinnati Early Learning Centers), training is provided to improve teaching strategies and interventions to address areas of concern. A post-assessment is done in the spring to measure progress and develop plans for additional interventions before kindergarten.