To measure literacy, MEP compared students’ performance on the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening, or PALS, an assessment of students’ familiarity with literacy fundamentals like letter recognition, spelling and sound awareness.
On average, 4K students scored higher on PALS than 53 percent of their peers who did not enroll in 4K. Students of color, students from low-income families and students of non-college educated parents also benefited from 4K enrollment when compared to their peers of similar backgrounds. On average, the PALS scores of African-American and Latino students enrolled in 4K were higher than 58 percent of their peers of the same background who did not enroll in 4K.
Low-income 4K students also scored better on PALS than 58 percent of their peers from similar socioeconomic backgrounds.
The study found no appreciable difference in PALS performance for students enrolled in an MMSD school-based 4K program versus an MMSD early childhood center.
MEP’s study also compared MMSD’s 4K student performance to children enrolled in Milwaukee Public Schools’ 4K program. MPS was chosen as a peer district because of its urban setting, large size and diverse student body.
On average, Milwaukee 4K students outscored their non-4K peers on the PALS assessment 76 percent of the time, far ahead of Madison’s 52 percent average. The report did not conclude why the gap between MMSD and MPS student performance is so large but mentioned that MPS only offers full-day 4K, while MMSD students attend half-day programs.
Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.
Much more on 4K, here.