LENA for School Districts
How school districts are working with LENA
School districts across the U.S. are investing in the early years to give children an equitable start. Every child should come to kindergarten ready to learn and primed to succeed. To that end, school districts are implementing LENA programs to improve early language environments, both in the home and in child care settings.
Why? Because amplifying the importance of interactive, responsive early language environments is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to set young children up for long-term success. A growing body of research has linked early interaction to improved social-emotional development, language development, reading skills, brain structure and function, and long-term cognitive development.
How LENA aligns to the Five Dimensions of School Readiness
from the National Education Goals Panel
It was in 1990 that the newly formed National Education Goals Panel (NEGP) asserted the importance of a child’s first years of life.
Importantly, the panel emphasized that early childhood education is a shared responsibility. All children must have access to high-quality preschool programs, they said, and all parents must have access to training and resources to support their role as the child’s first teacher.
Also importantly, the panel emphasized that school readiness must be defined broadly, accounting for more than just a child’s cognitive skills. To that end, they established five interrelated dimensions of school readiness:
- Language development.
- Social and emotional development.
- Cognition and general knowledge.
- Approaches toward learning.
- Physical well-being and motor development.
At LENA, we think responsive adult-child relationships underpin so much of what defines school readiness. There’s no easier and no better way to help improve adult-child relationships than to shine a light on the brain-building potential of conversational turns.
LENA Grow and LENA Start align with school districts' Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) programming. Download the ESSA guide.
Cherokee County School District
In South Carolina, Cherokee County School District has reached over 500 children with its LENA programming. “Our work with LENA started as a way to educate parents on how they can become kindergarten ready," said Lisa Blanton, Coordinator of Early Childhood Education. "Our district has very low DIAL-4 scores for kids entering 4K. They’ve historically fallen below the 24th percentile. For the children whose teachers did LENA Grow, their language and literacy scores have shot up to the 52nd percentile.”
San Joaquin County Office of Education
In California, the San Joaquin County Office of Education began piloting LENA Home in 2019 in partnership with the Beyond Our Gates initiative at University of the Pacific. By incorporating objective feedback into their Parents as Teachers home visiting, they increased the impact of their work with families across the county. In 2021, they added LENA Grow to bring this same powerful feedback and coaching to early educators. In their first year of LENA Grow, they've reached over 30 educators in school district preschool classrooms, Head Start classrooms with CAPK and CAPSLO, and family child care homes.
Huntsville City Schools
In Alabama, Huntsville City Schools has served over 400 families with its LENA Start parent-group classes. Results from the district's independent longitudinal evaluation show that children whose families participated demonstrated considerably higher early literacy scores than their peers two years after the program and were far more likely to be at an advanced literacy level entering pre-K.
Fort Worth Independent School District
In Texas, Fort Worth Independent School District first implemented LENA Grow during the 2018-2019 school year to help ensure the district’s youngest students were receiving high-quality language development support. Classrooms that used LENA Grow increased CLASS® domains compared to classrooms that did not use the program. To date, FWISD has reached more than 450 children and 70 educators through its LENA Grow program.
Mesquite Independent School District
Also in Texas, Mesquite ISD incorporated LENA Start into its innovative early literacy initiative, called ReadPlayTalk, in 2021. To date, the program has served more than 200 families.
Bourbonnais ESD 53
Bourbonnais 53 District in Illinois adopted LENA Grow and LENA Home because they recognized the importance of investing in children’s earliest years. As they have reimagined what school readiness means for children, families, and teachers, they’ve included multiple partners beyond their district boundaries to improve readiness and have shifted spending priorities to align with brain research in early learning.
Pasco County School District
In Florida, Pasco County School District has incorporated LENA Grow into their Early Head Start, Head Start, and VPK classrooms to support early language and literacy development and improve the quality of children’s classroom experiences.
Want to learn more? Check out our webinars and blog posts about how school districts across the country are partnering with LENA.
Kindergarten readiness and conversational turns: Study results point to a boost from LENA Start
Every child ready by kindergarten: A case study in one school district's vision of early childhood
Kindergarten readiness, parent education, and conversational turns: A statistically significant correlation in a rural South Carolina school district
A study out of Cherokee County, S.C., has found a correlation between parent participation in LENA programs and higher scores on the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment.
Rural school districts: Challenges, opportunities, and LENA
Every rural school district has its defining features and challenges, but they all share a common opportunity: boosting early talk and getting a jump start on school readiness.
Initial longitudinal evaluation results: Huntsville children whose parents participated in LENA Start have stronger literacy skills two years later
Children whose families participated in LENA Start, a parent-group program focused on increasing early talk, demonstrated considerably higher early literacy scores than a matched control sample and were far more likely to be at an advanced literacy level entering preschool, an evaluation from Huntsville City Schools discovered.
School districts use LENA programs to improve kindergarten readiness, child outcomes
School districts around the country are increasingly investing in the early years to give children an equitable start long before kindergarten.