CALDWELL -- Less than a 25% of high school graduates in the Caldwell School District go on to college or trade school.
Two years ago, the Caldwell School District partnered with the community to help improve the numbers. They created the P16 Project, a multiyear program designed to help more students continue their education after high school, so they can grow up to be whatever they want.
The Treasure Valley YMCA, United Way, J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, and many others are part of the program. The partners provide financial support and staff to help run parts of the P16 Project.
ONE PROJECT, SEVERAL DIFFERENT ASPECTS
The project has several different aspects, all aimed at inspiring, educating and motivating students.
The foundation of the program is early childhood education. There are two different P16 preschool programs, one at Lincoln Elementary and one at Wilson Elementary. The preschools are designed to help prepare young students for kindergarten.
It's the first year of preschool for young Malachi Isaacson, whose mom says she can see the program making a difference in his motivation and social skills.
"I think it will give him the confidence early on to you know do whatever he wants to do," said Mandi Isaacson. "As soon as he gets out of bed, he's wanting to get dressed and go to school. It has been good for him with his social skills, and definitely his speech too, having little kids around."
One of the kindergarten teachers at Lincoln Elementary says she notices a difference in students who attend the P16 preschool before coming to her classroom.
"The students I have came in academically ready to learn," said Elsje Taggart. "They are definitely classroom leaders."
RESEARCH INDICATES PROGRAM IS WORKING
Research from the first year of the program shows the P16 preschool had a positive impact on students. Before the preschool, only 21% of the students scored average or above average on the "Get Ready to Read!" test. When the same preschoolers were given the test in August of 2012 -- right before kindergarten -- 57% scored average, or above average.
The P16 preschools are open to all 3 to 5-year-olds in the Caldwell School District. To date, more than 150 children have attended the preschools.
"These children have had a wonderful start," said Tricia Stone, Lincoln Elementary School Principal. "I believe it will impact them through their whole education career. Hopefully, through college and on into whatever they want to do."
MORE SUPPORT AS CHILDREN GROW OLDER
When children get to elementary school, there is the opportunity to participate in "out of school" learning programs at Washington and Lewis and Clark Elementary. Here, children receive academic support, build life skills, and learn to lead healthy lives.
At every school in the district there is also a college aspirations program. This program encourages students to think about life after high school, and plan for how to reach their goals.
During the next two years, the P16 Project hopes to increase the number of students who attend post-secondary education to 46%.