Ohio Ready Schools Initiative Overview
The Ohio Association of Elementary School Administrators (OAESA) has led the Ohio Ready Schools Initiative (ORSI) since its inception in 2008 when eight schools were selected as pilot schools to launch the ORSI. Since then, 68 schools across Ohio have been involved in the ORSI, representing urban, suburban, and rural schools.
A Transformative Journey Begins:
In 2007, research from the Foundation for Child Development highlighted the importance of pre-K-3 alignment and of organizing schools and state organizations to meet two goals: 1) preparing children for successful entry into schools and 2) preparing the schools to support the range of needs demonstrated by incoming kindergartners.
With grant funds from the Kellogg Foundation through the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton, the ORSI was created. OAESA joined with the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton and the Office of Early Learning at the Ohio Department of Education to design, implement, and support the process of connecting the early childhood community with the K-12 system.
After reviewing the research and the needs identified by the comprehensive stakeholder committee and from the field, seven major components were identified. These components formed the backbone of the ORSI.Read About ORSI's Thinking
The seven components focus on:
- multiple levels of school leadership;
- supportive school and classroom environments;
- attention to the importance of transitions from home to school and grade to grade;
- focus on standards, curriculum, and assessments;
- celebration of diversity;
- promotion of home-school-community relationships; and
- attention to adult learning communities.
A nine-step process was put into place to create a structure for sites beginning in the ORSI. This process is still utilized. New school site teams are provided a full day of ORSI orientation as well as help in developing locally driven action plans based on their needs assessments. During the year, all ORSI sites have access to an online coach, site visits if requested, and three days of regional networking and professional development.
Impacts of the Journey So Far:
- increased numbers of early kindergarten registrations;
- increased teacher involvement in focused professional development;
- increased kindergarten entry literacy scores;
- increased parent participation;
- increased partnerships with pre-K, childcare centers, and community support agencies;
- increased alignment of curriculum, instruction and expectations across grade levels;
- increased participant awareness of the alignment of ORSI to professional standards; and
- increased participants' ability to use ORSI activities as documentation for meeting teacher standards.
The Journey Continues...
The ORSI has been developing ties between local early childhood educators and public school districts for almost 10 years to ensure that children and families are ready for schools and that schools are ready for children and families. OAESA has partnered with the Ounce of Prevention Fund to develop a proposed two-year project to create and implement an ORSI credential that is based on the latest research, best practices in the field, and robust stakeholder engagement and input. This credential would provide a roadmap of critical ORSI components, establish common metrics and benchmarks for progress, and impart formal recognition to schools and leaders that are forging strong partnerships between the early childhood and K-12 systems. By formalizing the ORSI journey, we can deepen engagement with schools that are currently participating in the initiative and can also expand the ORSI to additional interested schools. We will create a strong pre-K-3 continuum for children throughout Ohio-one that provides a strong foundation for children before they begin kindergarten and continues to support them during the critical elementary years so that all children are prepared for later success in school and in life. We believe that this work could serve as a national model as our country's education system transforms from a K-12 system to a pre-K-12 system and beyond.
For more information and to download the ORSI resource guide, please visit ohioreadyschools.oaesa.org.