LENA for School Districts
How school districts are working with LENA
The first years of a child’s life are the most critical period for brain development, when the foundation of all language and literacy skills are built. An important question naturally follows: What if we looked at early childhood education as an extension of “school”?
More than that, though: What if we actually acted on both our best instincts and our best data and implemented programs proven to move the school-readiness needle?
School districts around the country are increasingly investing in the early years to give children an equitable start, even before they start kindergarten.
They're implementing LENA programs — LENA Grow, LENA Start, and LENA Home — to improve early language environments. It's one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to accelerate brain development, improve socioemotional development, and set children up for long-term success in school. Paired with strengths-based coaching for parents, teachers, and other caregivers, LENA's one-of-a-kind "talk pedometer" technology is the driving force behind everything we do.
“The reports were a real benefit, because it wasn’t just me telling the teachers what their results were. They could see for themselves and identify their areas of growth. It made my job much easier in regard to coaching in those areas.”
— Lisa Austin, a coach who worked with teachers during the Fort Worth Independent School District's LENA Grow program
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.
In Texas, Fort Worth Independent School District implemented LENA Grow in four early learning classrooms 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 scores in key CLASS domains compared to classrooms that did not use the program. Over 200 children have now participated in the program.
In Nevada, Humboldt County School District implemented LENA Home in 2021, serving 10 families in its pilot program and committing to tripling that number in 2022. “We’re not an impoverished community, but we have what I call ‘educational poverty,’" said Colby Corbitt, Principal at Winnemucca Grammar School. "Families have never gone beyond high school, but they’re making an exceptional wage. They don’t really push school on their kids, and they don’t get a lot of time with their kids. One goal is to increase the time they spend with their kids, to increase the time their spend talking with their kids, and teaching them the value of education so we have more well-prepared kids.”
In South Carolina, Cherokee County School District has adopted LENA Grow, LENA Start, and LENA Home, reaching over 400 children. “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.”
To see more stories and dig deeper into the brain science behind the power of early talk, read our white paper entitled "School districts put neuroscience research into action for their youngest learners."
We've also prepared a document that outline how LENA Grow, LENA Start, and LENA Home align with school districts' Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) programming.