A recent study shows a Portland Public Schools three-week program for children who did not attend preschool is reaping rewards.

The goal of this free program is to alleviate the anxieties of parents and their children in transitioning to kindergarten. The program was launched in 2010 in two schools and entailed children receiving kindergarten training every morning along with family meetings twice-a-week. Emphasis is now placed on helping students who do not speak English as a primary language or who attended Head Start and struggle with attendance.

Since the launch of the program, numerous other districts in Portland have begun similar programs, and the district now spends about $13,000 per school to provide this service.

While the program is short time-wise, the fruits of the program are outstanding. The most notable benefit of the program is that the schools are now able to better connect with families they struggle to contact and engage.

Another benefit is the emphasis on family involvement. The study states that “the emphasis on family involvement stems from a wealth of literature indicating that when parents are involved in their children’s schooling, students achieve higher grades, have better attendance, show more positive attitudes and behaviors, have higher graduation rates, and are more likely to enroll in higher education.”

Ngoc Nguyen, a mom from Southeast Portland, enrolled her youngest son in the program in the summer of 2016 and highly recommends the program. “My son didn’t know anything about school. He was so unsure and kind of afraid.” She stated that “After he really liked it. They helped him step by step to know the rules and routine every day.”

Researchers from the Multnomah County Partnership for Education Research conducted the study. They found that, after tracking 450 students for five years, the children who participated in the program had better attendance rates and stronger literacy skill than students who did not take part in the program. Since poor attendance and insufficient literacy skills can increase a student’s probability of dropping out, Researcher Beth Tarasawa stated that the results of this program could pay off years down the road.

Helen Cook is a current honors student at Benedictine College, where she is studying History with a minor in Theology. She is heavily active in student life, participating in three music ensembles as a violinist and leading Ravens Respect Life as president. When she is not busy with school and student life activities, she is found reading the many classical works of literature.