SCS and Porter-Leath Early Childhood Partnership Achieves Success for Kids

MEMPHIS, Tennessee – A recent assessment by Shelby County Schools has revealed that 72 percent of incoming kindergartners from its Early Childhood programs demonstrate full academic readiness in foundational reading skills — an increase of 125 percent over the past year. SCS took over Memphis’ Head Start program from Shelby County government in 2014, increasing the number of students served by 3,000. The district contracts the operation of early childcare centers and wraparound services exclusively to Porter-Leath, which will serve 5,476 students in the 2015-2016 school year.      

Head Start is a federal program that provides early child development and family support services for children, ages 3-5, from the highest risk families.  With a comprehensive focus on all aspects of healthy development, the Head Start Approach to School Readiness means that children are ready for school, families are ready to support their children's learning, and schools are ready for children.   

School readiness goals for Porter-Leath and SCS are aligned with the Head Start Child Developmental & Early Learning Framework, the Tennessee School Readiness Model, and the Kindergarten Readiness Checklist for SCS. Ongoing evaluation of children’s learning and development progress is administered through Istation® computer-adaptive testing as well as Brigance assessments, which determine progress in language, motor, self-help, social-emotional, and cognitive skills. School readiness goals for the following year are adjusted based on student progress.      

Dr. Deanna McClendon, SCS’ Director of Early Childhood Programs said, “Our partnership with Porter-Leath has successfully combined accountability, experience and cooperation to not only deliver critical learning components but also meet the social and emotional needs of children and families.”    

"We are delighted to have doubled our school readiness scores, and continue to work towards our goal of 90 percent readiness," said Karen Harrell, Vice President of Early Childhood Services at Porter-Leath. “Reaching this landmark brings us closer to our vision of becoming a leader in helping Mid-South children and families succeed.” In addition to supporting children’s developmental growth, the program provides health screenings, nutritious meals, disability services, parenting training and mental health support to build their school readiness. 

Read more about this wonderful news for Memphis at Teach901