What is Even Start Family Literacy?
Texas Even Start utilizes a family‐centered education model that improves the academic achievement of young children and the literacy skills of their parents in order to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty and illiteracy. Texas Even Start programs serve families that are the most economically disadvantaged and have the lowest levels of adult literacy in the state. In 2008‐09, 99% of parents participating had less than a ninth grade education; 69% of the participating non‐teen parents were between the ages of 25‐44. Texas Even Start Family Literacy dollars are used to provide scientific research‐based, year‐round, instructional services. Even Start integrates all of the following activities into a unified family literacy program:
- Interactive literacy activities between parents and their children that transfer educational concepts into the home and family
- Training for parents on how to be the primary teacher for their children and full partners in the education of their children
- Parent literacy education that leads to economic self‐sufficiency
- Age‐appropriate education to prepare children for success in school and life experiences
How do Texas Families Qualify to Participate in the Even Start Family Literacy?
The family must:
- be of low income sufficient to qualify for Title I, ESEA services,
- have at least one parent who needs a GED/high school diploma or has not yet mastered English, and
- have at least one child under age 8
There were 35 programs with 87 sites across Texas in the school year of 2008‐09. Despite significant funding cuts since 2004, Texas has exceeded their target goal of families served while significantly increasing performance. Texas served 2,046 families in 2008‐09. According to the most recent national data, Texas served an impressive 16% of the total number of Even Start children served in the nation. Out of the 3,496 Texas children participating, 71%
of the children were birth to five years old. Excluding children born to teen parents, 78% had parents that were learning to speak English.
Who Provides Even Start Family Literacy Instruction in Texas?
Even Start grants are awarded competitively to applicants who demonstrate proven effectiveness in providing family literacy services. Providers in 2008‐09 were: ▪ 24 school districts ▪ 2 education service centers ▪ 9 public or private non‐profit organizations
What are the Outcomes of Texas Even Start Family Literacy?
- 97% of Even Start third graders passed TAKS Reading, the state standardized reading assessment.
- 99% of Even Start kindergarteners and 98% of Even Start first graders were promoted to the next grade level at the end of the 2008‐09 program year; promotion rates that exceed Texas rates for kindergarten and first graders according to Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS) 2008‐09 State Performance Report.
- 92% of Even Start kindergarteners, first graders and second graders met or exceeded the standard on district‐selected reading assessments, a remarkable achievement considering 100% of Even Start families have parents who are currently learning to read.
- 96% of Even Start adults enrolled improved their parenting skills in 2008‐2009 based on results of the HOME Inventory.
- 77% of Even Start parents with a goal of earning a GED did so in 2008‐09.
- 85% of Even Start pre‐schoolers increased receptive vocabulary at least one full year of growth in a 4 to 6 month span of time. Receptive vocabulary is a predictor of reading success.
- 88% Even Start adults advanced at least one level in 2008‐09 in reading, math, language or English proficiency, even though mandatory school attendance laws do not apply to adults.
- 76% of the families enrolled in 2008‐2009 stayed at least 7 months or longer; scientifically‐based research shows prolonged participation equals higher performance in educational gains.
What is the Even Start Family Literacy Investment in Texas?
Even Start programs apply for a fixed amount of federal funds. Local share/match is required for each program and the requirement increases with each year of implementation. The United States Congress appropriated $66,454,399 Even Start of funds for the entire nation in 2008‐2009. The total federal grant amount awarded to Texas for all 35 programs in 2008‐2009 was $5,662,646 and the total local match for the state was $7,505,531. Budget cuts made since 2004 have resulted in a discontinuation of funding for 59 Even Start Programs in Texas. That represents a loss of services to 4164 families each year.
Constituents seeking more information regarding Even Start Family Literacy in Texas may contact:
Texas LEARNS at 866.696.4233 or 713.696.0700
Even Start Family Literacy funds are allocated by the U.S. Department of Education under the authority of the William F. Goodling Even Start Family Literacy (P.L. 100-297), Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, Title I, Part B, Subpart 3, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (P.L. 107-110). The Texas Education Agency is granted the funds for the state of Texas, and Even Start is administered through Texas LEARNS, The State Office of Adult Education and Family Literacy.