Pre-K 4 SA began with a bang last fall for its inaugural year with Mayor Julián Castro himself greeting children and their parents at the door as they walked in to a new program and a new chapter in San Antonio's history.
Now that the school year is just about up, it's time to get an idea exactly how the program performed in its first year to see what worked well and what needs improving.
That'll be the job for Edvance Research, a local firm hired by Pre-K 4 SA to study various merits of the program, and even the children. Edvance's five year contract with the city will also follow the students through third grade.
Edvance Senior Researcher Lauren Decker said the data collection will be anonymous to protect the students' privacy.
"We're going to do everything by number," she said. "There's no reason in conducting the evaluation, for our purposes, that we need to know who individual children are, and we take the protection of data from individual children very seriously."
According to Decker, data collection will be complete within a few weeks. The information collected is coming from data collected from each student at the beginning of the year, teacher surveys, and some classroom observation as well.
For the first year report, Decker said students will be evaluated based on their performance throughout the year. This is because the program is too young to base performance from year to year within the program. However, she said, future evaluation may include comparisons of students who participate in the program to those who do not.
The goal of the first-year evaluation is also to measure kindergarten readiness. Categories under evaluation will include literacy and other academic areas, but emotional growth will be a major component of the evaluation.
"We're in conversation with them to understand how to appropriately report and analyze that data but I do believe that it will be broken down into early literacy, early math and numeracy perhaps, and I know there's also some social and emotional dimensions as well so we really want to consider all of the aspects of kindergarten readiness, not just purely reading and math for these young children," said Decker.
Once the data is collected, the analysis portion will begin. A report for the first year of Pre-K 4 SA will be made by late summer, Decker said.