Kellogg Foundation Awards $1 Million for Early Learning in Arkansas

The has announced a $1 million grant from the to strengthen early childhood education, school readiness standards, and parental engagement.

The will use the grant to redesign the state's birth-to-five early learning standards, identify a new kindergarten-entry assessment tool, and create a framework to support family engagement. Changes to the standards likely will include additional emphasis on social and emotional as well as physical skills children need in kindergarten and higher grades, which also will be part of the new assessment used to evaluate certain skill levels in children.

"A new assessment tool should look at more than the cognitive skills of language and logic," said division director Tonya Williams. "Those are important, but so too is the development of fine motor skills, like holding a pencil. We'll be looking for a tool that has a broader view of kindergarten readiness."

Engaging parents in their children's early learning is critical because "[p]arents are their children's first educators, and we want to be certain that they understand that role," Williams added. "We also want them to fully understand what happens in early learning settings. The more engaged parents are, the more likely children will be ready for classroom learning."

"DHS Division Awarded $1 Million Grant to Boost Early Learning, School Readiness." Arkansas Department of Human Services Press Release 07/10/2014.