Thanks to the help of more than 250 volunteers, Anoka-Hennepin will receive much-needed data related to the skills of 2,600 kindergarten students.
The Kindergarten Data Collection program began 10 years ago after kindergarten teachers at Park View Early Childhood Center expressed concerns about how a schedule change would impact available time for instruction. There was also a concern about new requirements as the result of restructured reading instruction and curriculum.
Because kindergarten teachers were now expected to collect and assess much more students data than they had previously, the Kindergarten Data Collection program staffed by volunteers was created. It is administered by Parent Involvement/Volunteer Services.
Administered three times during a school year, the data volunteers collect provides a “snapshot” of students’ progress toward the master of basic literacy skills.
Kindergarten Data Collection volunteers work one-on-one with students. They collect three types of information:
— Letter identification. Students are asked to identify alphabet letters in one of three ways: letter name; letter sound; or object or word beginning with that letter.
— Phonemic awareness. Students are asked to perform two basic tasks: clapping syllables; or matching rhyming names with pictures.
— Concepts about print. Students are asked 15 questions that reflect their knowledge about print. For example, students are asked to show where a book begins and ends; the differences between letters, words and sentences; and how to read left to right and down the page.
The information helps teachers assess what type of instruction will effectively boost individual or class levels of skill. Teachers can adjust their lessons plans accordingly and work with students to help them reach the next level of mastery.
Judy Stockwell, of Champlin, has volunteered with the program since it first began. A retired second and third grade teacher at Franklin Elementary School, Stockwell takes part in the Kindergarten Data Collection program at Franklin.
Through a letter to retired teachers, Stockwell found out about the program. Having just retired from teaching and being worried she would miss students, Stockwell signed up to volunteer. She was also attracted to the program because she knew the information would help teachers.
For the past 10 years, Stockwell has continued to be a program volunteer because of the students. With the sessions lasting three to five minutes, Stockwell can see about 15 students in one day.
“We get to see them three times a year so we get to see their progress,” she said. “I am surprised how many letters some students don’t know at the start of the school year. By the end of the school year they change so much. It’s fun to see their confidence grow.”
In addition to helping with the Kindergarten Data Collection, Stockwell volunteers at Franklin every Tuesday.
“I mostly work with first grade students, but I go wherever they need me,” she said. “I enjoy being back and connecting with teachers and students.”