SPARK (Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids™) is a family focused intervention program that helps children get ready for school by building reading, language and social skills, and seeks to create a seamless transition into school for children ages 3-6. It is an effective kindergarten-readiness program that works collaboratively with families, schools, and the community. SPARK also promotes educational continuity and supportive transition activities for children and families through the use of the of Ready School framework.
Each month, SPARK children receive a new book, a lesson activity, and educational supplies, and participate in home- or group-based learning opportunities—all with the goal of increasing the child's success in school and life. SPARK Parent Partners deliver monthly lessons and activities to families of preschool-aged children. The structured lesson plans and activities SPARK offers are aligned with the Ohio Department of Education's Early Learning Standards. In partnership with community agencies and schools, SPARK ensures that barriers to school readiness are removed. Children with developmental, social, emotional, or mental health issues are referred to community resources to address issues before they prevent school readiness.
How are ECEA and SPARK helping to close the achievement gap in Alliance?
ECEA and SPARK have been working diligently to increase the number of "Ready Kids" arriving on the doorsteps of Alliance kindergarten classroom. KRA data indicates that children are more prepared for kindergarten because of their SPARK experience.
Over and over again, research has shown that children living in poverty suffer in a multitude of ways. Alliance's free & reduced lunch rate is approaching 80%, signifying an increase in poverty within the community. Childhood poverty is associated with higher rates of academic failure, grade retention, school dropouts, teen parenthood, and smoking and illegal drug use. Children growing up in poverty are more likely to have employment difficulties as adults. Research also shows that these outcomes are preventable. SPARK has positive impacts for children experiencing poverty.
Providing a strong foundation in the early years decreases delinquency rates, decreases the incidence of teen pregnancy, yields higher academic outcomes, and increases the probability of high school graduation and post-secondary school attendance. This means a better-educated, better-prepared workforce and ultimately a community ready to grow and prosper!