Studies show that educational achievement gaps already exist at Kindergarten entry.  Children from low-income families are more likely to start school with limited language skills, health problems and social and emotional problems that interfere with learning.  The larger the gap at school entry, the harder it is to close.

Language proficiency is a key predictor of school success. Early literacy skills (size of vocabulary, recognizing letters, understanding letter and sound relationships) at kindergarten entry are good predictors of children's reading abilities throughout their educational careers. Language and literacy skills enable children to develop cognitive skills and knowledge and to interact effectively with peers and adults.



Highlights of the State

The School Readiness Initiative Partnership has established an outstanding coalition of state and non-profit agencies.  This partnership has defined and targeted Arkansas School Readiness Indicators consisting of Ready Children, Ready Families, Ready Schools and Ready Communities.  These indicators will be tracked regularly over time at state and local levels.  A Getting Ready For School data report and a Kindergarten Readiness Checklist brochure have been published identifying the indicators for the state.

Policy Issues
* Act 49 of 2004 declared that $40 million go to preschool in the new funding formula for Arkansas' educational system.

*Act 35 of 2003 of the 2nd Extraordinary Sesson of the Arkansas 84th General Assembly requires the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) to implement a developmentally appropriate uniform school readiness screening and establish a concise system of reporting the performance.  Beginning with the 2004-2005 school year, the ADE shall require all school districts to administer a statewide uniform school readiness screening to each kindergarten student upon entry of school.  The state mandated screening tool will be administred within a given time frame.

* Act 1332 of 2003 created Arkansas Better Chance for School Success, an expansion of the state-funded preschool program.  The money to fund education reform will come from the following bills:

HB1030 (a 7/8 percentage point increase in the sales tax, extending the sales tax to selected services, tax on vending machine operations), $82 million collected during the rest of fiscal year 2004 due to an emergency clause, $364 million during fiscal year 2005.

SB 80 (increase of corportae franchise tax) $6 million during fiscal year 2005, $25 milion-growth in propoerty tax collection from increased assessments and $22 million natural growth from general revenue.

*ABC is a publicly funded preschool program for 3 and 4 year-old children who are characterized as at-risk of school failure.  Act 1332 enables more children to be served in the ABC program and states that "consideration for funding shall first go to communities in which schools have low performance-75% below proficient on Math and Literacy, in academic distress and/or high poverty leves, raised from 156% to 200%" (FPL).

*Any willing provider (or school) may apply.  Those funded must have State Quality Approval status, a P-4 licensed teacher as lead teacher and CDA credentialed aide and 1:10 ratio in the classroom.  A logitudinal study is being initiated, students will be tracked through a standardized assessment from entry into the program until 4th grade and all programs will utilize the kindergarten readiness screening.

* To view Act 49 go to  Look under "Services A to Z", click on Arkansas Better Chance.

Statutory Children's Cabinet
The Governor's Partnership Council for Children and Families
The Governor's Partnership Council for Children and Families was disbanded a few years ago. No new group has been appointed to continue their work.

Arkansas School Readiness Report
Access Getting Ready for School by clicking on the following link:




© 2005, School Readiness Indicators Initiative
One Union Station Providence, RI 02903 401.351.9400 fax 401.351.1758
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The School Readiness Indicators Initiative is supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the Ford Foundation.
The 17-state initiative is managed by Rhode Island KIDS COUNT