Sunday, August 25, 2013
Keaveny: The importance of early childhood education
In response to Missouri test scores released by the nonprofit organization ACT, whose exam is the most frequently utilized college-entry test in Missouri, Sen. Joseph Keaveny, D-St. Louis, continues to stress that early childhood education is the best way to ensure Missouri students are prepared to learn throughout the course of their education. His same advocacy for early childhood education focuses on preventing these students from wasting valuable money and time on remedial education when seeking higher education.
According to ACT’s Condition of College and Career Readiness 2013 annual report released on Aug. 21, three out of four (76 percent) of Missouri ACT-tested high school graduates from 2013 met at least one college readiness benchmark; only 28 percent of Missouri test-takers met all four benchmarks. A benchmark is a median course placement value for higher education institutions and represents institutions’ typical set of expectations.
The report also pointed out an achievement gap that still exists in Missouri, with 5 percent of African Americans and 18 percent of Hispanic/Latinos meeting all four benchmarks on the ACT.
“It simply starts at the very beginning of a child’s education, we must provide the attention and supplement the programs that will help our youth thrive while they make their way through our state’s educational system,” said Sen. Keaveny. “Early childhood education programs must become the state’s top priority to ensure our young Missourians stay on track in our nation’s competitive educational environment. Youth who receive valuable early childhood education become successful adults, productive employees and much-needed contributors to our economy.”
The same report released this week showed Missouri’s ACT composite score remained at 21.6 for the ninth year in a row, ranking Missouri seventh out of 20 states with similar participation rates. Overall, Missouri ranks 23rd nationally, which is up from 26th in 2012. The number of Missouri graduates taking the ACT declined slightly to 74 percent (49,217) compared to 75 percent (49,222) last year.
In addition, 44 Missouri students scored a perfect 36 on the exam this year, up from 29 last year. The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 representing the highest possible score.
“It’s encouraging to see our state’s overall ranking move up this year and to know so many bright, young Missourians achieved such an academic feat,” said Sen. Keaveny. “However, there’s still much work to be done to ensure our children’s academic future. Early education remains my top priority, and I urge my colleagues to join me on focusing our attention on this young population that will one day make up our workforce and drive our state’s economy.”
To read more information about Sen. Keaveny’s work on behalf of Missouri’s students, including his legislative efforts on Senate Bill 133, which would have allowed school districts and charter schools to receive state aid for certain students age 3-5 who are participating in a district-operated pre-kindergarten program, visit www.senate.mo.gov/keaveny.