The Kenneth Rainin Foundation is making significant investments in research to better understand what is needed to unlock potential for Oakland children and support the dreams that Oakland families have for their children’s success. Dr. Marc Hernandez from NORC at the University of Chicago, has been an important partner in this work by conducting national and local research.

The Foundation highly values listening, learning and disseminating information that can help children in Oakland and elsewhere to be ready for kindergarten and reading successfully by the end of third grade. We are widely sharing our research findings because we know that they will inspire dialogue and benefit the work our community is doing together to support children and their families. Below are highlights of our research findings and presentations on:

School Readiness for Children Ages Birth to 5

We believe that the quality of literacy opportunities has a profound impact on children’s trajectories. To better understand the skills and practices that impact kindergarten readiness, NORC conducted research to address the following questions:

  • What are the key skills that predict kindergarten readiness?
  • What programs and best practices have a big impact on kindergarten readiness?
  • How do we know if Oakland children are school ready?

Key takeaway: Children develop within a context—home, community, and early childhood education experiences—and there is a strong research base of what early childhood skills are most predictive of later school success.

View our school readiness for children presentation to learn more about this research and what our community can do to help get every child ready for kindergarten.

Download the full research reports:

Effective Practices in K-2 Literacy Instruction

NORC conducted a nationwide literature review of practices that support K-2 reading success to uncover effective practices and programs that helped ensure children are reading successfully by third grade. This research revealed:

  • The most important predictors of kindergarten readiness and later academic success.
  • Evidence-based practices in curriculum, programs and interventions that increased literacy skills in K-2 children.
  • “Active ingredients” in programs that have the biggest impact on kindergarten readiness and third grade reading.
  • Descriptions of how math, social emotional development and approaches to learning are interrelated to support literacy skills.

Key Takeaway: The best “bang for your buck” is to create multi-disciplinary learning opportunities that integrate content learning (science, math) with language arts.

View the presentation to learn more about this research and the effective practices and programs that help ensure children are reading successfully by third grade.

Oakland Early Childhood Education – Household Interview Results

Parents and caregivers are a child’s first teachers, so we are eager to learn from them to better understand how we can support the dreams they have for their children. The Foundation partnered with NORC to conduct over 400 household interviews with families that have children ages birth to six, in 14 elementary school communities in Oakland. An unprecedented 97% of eligible families agreed to be interviewed, welcoming us into their homes and lives. From these interviews, we learned about:

“The <PreK-2> lit reviews, and the household survey are going to feed us and guide us for years to come…The data is seriously actionable.”– Participant at our community conversation

  • Their overall life experiences.
  • What daily life is like for families.
  • How their children are developing.
  • What resources and services strengthened families.

View the presentation from our preliminary data analysis to see what we learned initially from Oakland families.

In January 2017, we had another opportunity to come together as a community and to do an even deeper dive on the household interview results. In addition to learning so much more about families’ early childhood care experiences, we captured these key takeaways. View the January 2017 presentation here.

Read the interview questions to learn more about what we asked families

What’s next?

This research is just the start of many conversations, and follow-on actions, as there is more exciting work to be done. The Rainin Foundation truly appreciates the support of our local education partners to bring this research to the community of Oakland practitioners, educators, funders and community advocates. We are very optimistic about what we can do collectively and what’s to come.