Telluride Foundation Promotes School Readiness for Young Children

The Telluride Foundation, a community foundation located in rural southwest Colorado, recently embarked on an initiative to link its grantmaking to measurable outcomes, ensuring that grant funding can be tracked to quantifiable changes in behaviors, education, skills, and/or participation. This initiative is primarily focused on early childhood development organizations, engaging them to collectively improve children’s school readiness.

Being unprepared for school and learning has significant and potentially long-term consequences for children and society. Generally, kids that start behind stay behind; interventions must increase the slope of the developmental trajectory to catch them up. The Telluride Foundation—in partnership with the Colorado Department of Education, two local school districts, and five local pre-schools— has initiated a School Readiness Outcomes Initiative for preschool and kindergarten.

Child care center partners and school districts will implement “Teaching Strategy GOLD,” an online assessment and observation tool. This is more than just a pre/post-activity measurement. Rather, young children are observed to accurately document their knowledge and skills. Preschool and kindergarten teachers use Teaching Strategy Gold assessments to capture children’s learning and developmental progress and post results to secure online portfolios.

The measurement of school readiness outcomes will not happen overnight, but the foundation believes that its investment will prove successful over the long term. Over the past year, the foundation has spent time and resources educating regional school districts, preschools, and early childhood development organizations, facilitating meetings with state officials to implement the School Readiness Outcomes Initiative and Teaching Strategy Gold assessments.

As a result of participating in this initiative, school districts, early childhood development organizations, preschools, and the foundation will be able to measure and analyze changes in the number of children entering kindergarten ready to learn and identify programs and curriculum that improve readiness. Finally, the foundation will be able to earmark grants for programs that work and organizations demonstrating a track record of preparing kids for kindergarten.