The positive impacts of our Kindergarten teachers: A guest blog by Virginia’s Chief School Readiness Officer, Jenna Conway!

Teaching kindergarten is a most important job. As the mother of a kindergartener in public school, I know how his teacher means the world to him. During spring break this week, he talked about missing her every day! But that’s not all. With the Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Program (VKRP), kindergarten teachers extend their impact beyond the classroom. Through VKRP, they help gather the data and build the case to strengthen Virginia’s birth to five early childhood system.

As you know, VKRP provides a clear, consistent snapshot of where your kids are when they enter school. With this knowledge and the accompanying VKRP resources, you can individualize instruction to build on kids’ unique strengths and address their gaps. Your principal has a consistent measure across classrooms and your superintendent across sites, better positioning them to align supports and resources to meet your kids’ unique needs.

But do you know how far your impact extends beyond the kindergarten classroom? In fact, VKRP helps the Commonwealth better connect school readiness to important longer-term outcomes such as third grade results or high school graduation rates. Understanding this relationship helps demonstrate the importance of early investments and paints a clearer picture of student achievement over time.

Equally important, the data you carefully gather and submit helps to strengthen Virginia’s birth to five early childhood system – specifically the diverse set of programs where children are cared for and educated prior to kindergarten like child care, Head Start and pre-K. It’s important to note that VKRP should not be used with stakes or for accountability purposes for individual programs. But, VKRP, when used appropriately, can help influence policy-making and decision-making.

VKRP results can help inspire policy-makers and practitioners to work together to unify and strengthen the early childhood system so that more of Virginia’s children have the opportunity to enter kindergarten ready. Specifically, VKRP can show where quality early childhood programming is correlated with better child outcomes, thus highlighting the return on these investments. VKRP can also shed light on inequities in quality or access so we can close those gaps that limit opportunities for kids. Finally, VKRP can help to promote continuous quality improvement across multiple readiness domains including self-regulation and social-emotional skills, much in the same way as Virginia has approached early literacy. 

Currently, Virginia children do not have equitable access to high quality birth-to-five early childhood care and education. The Northam administration is committed to making significant, sustainable improvements in this area over the next three years. Your work helps make the case for investing early and in quality, especially with Virginia’s littlest and most vulnerable learners.

Jenna Conway was appointed by Governor Ralph Northam as Virginia’s first ever Chief School Readiness Officer. She is charged with working across secretariats and state agencies to unify and improve Virginia’s early childhood education system. A Charlottesville native, Jenna was previously the Assistant Superintendent of Early Childhood at the Louisiana Department of Education from 2012-2018. Click here to read First Lady Pamela Northam’s March blog post on the administration’s vision for early childhood education in Virginia.


More questions? VKRP provides support via the online chat feature when you are in the system, via email vkrp@virginia.edu, and via toll free 866-301-8278 ext. 1