It's only the seventh day of kindergarten at John Burroughs Elementary School in Fresno but students in Maria Mata-Webb's class are already learning to read and write. That's because the teacher conducted a pre-assessment of her student's physical, social, and cognitive readiness, to get a feel for their skill level prior to the start of class.
Maria Mata-Webb told Action News, "It's been really useful to me as a teacher because we get to analyze the data and when the children came on the first day of school I already had an idea of their knowledge of their letters and sounds and colors and shapes."
It's all a part of The Kindergarten Student Entrance Profile, or KSEP, a district wide evaluation of all kindergarten students in order to better address their needs within the first 30 days of school.
FUSD Deputy Superintendent Ruth Quinto said, "This is all about getting kids to read on or above grade level by the third grade and starting that immediately in their educational career is definitely the best way to go."
The program was developed over six years as part of a school, community and university research collaboration at the University of California Santa Barbara, and was implemented at Fresno Unified at the end of last year.
As part of KSEP, each teacher meets with the parents of the child to ask them a series of short questions and then interacts with the student to observe their strengths and weaknesses.
Maria Mata-Webb explained, "I really love that part of the assessment because we really get an idea because some of the parents say, "you know what, they don't sleep well or they're really picky eaters," so it gives me a very big picture of the child... what the child is like."
Because in the end, teacher Maria Mata-Webb says knowledge is power, and the more she knows about her students, the better she can help them succeed.