November 28, 2016

Stark Education Partnership highlights success of SPARK kindergarten readiness program

SPARK, which stands for Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids, continues to be successful at getting kids ready for kindergarten. As a parent-focused intervention program, SPARK works with families, schools and the community to increase parents' effectiveness as learning advocates for their children and to improve the transition into elementary school.

The Stark Education Partnership highlighted some of these successes in a recent newsletter article. The full text of the article is below:

SPARK's Positive Impact On Stark Area Parents and Children

There is no such thing as starting 'too early' in creating opportunities for children; recent studies are even finding disparities in the abilities of young children as early as nine months. Research shows that children benefit from preschool opportunities that are of high quality. Additionally, there is value added when parents are trained in strategies to support their children at home. Since 2003, SPARK (Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids) has been working collaboratively with Stark County parents and their children ages 3-6 in providing parent training to support kindergarten readiness.

Recent data found that more SPARK students (37%) scored in the highest performance band by "Demonstrating Readiness" for kindergarten compared to non-SPARK students (26%). When parents were engaged, the average post-test language scores increased for kids. In a pre/post-test comparison, the number of Stark children ages 3-6 who scored "below" level in reading readiness decreased 23% after participating in the SPARK program. Further, the number of SPARK students whose reading readiness score was "above average" rose 20%.

These findings—as well as those found in a recent study showing kids in SPARK and preschool scoring higher than any other group on the KRA-L—illustrate the positive impact of SPARK combining early childhood education and parent involvement for student learning.

SPARK began as an initiative of the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton in partnership with the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. The program's management and operations were transferred to the Early Childhood Resource Center in 2013. By engaging families and strengthening parents as advocates for their children's sustained success, SPARK has helped thousands of children start school ready to succeed.

The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton and the Early Childhood Resource Center are ministries of the Sisters of Charity Health System.


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From its Cleveland headquarters, the Sisters of Charity Health System provides oversight, leadership and strategic direction to more than 20 organizations responding to community needs in Canton and Cleveland, Ohio, and South Carolina.

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