The Early Learning Success Initiative

There has never been a time when helping children achieve early learning success has been more important. It is the foundation upon which a love of learning, good test scores, graduation, and the choice to continue to learn throughout your life is formed. Children who come to school without important language, literacy, numeracy, motor, and behavior skills are at a disadvantage for success in the first years of school. Children who have not developed solid skills by the end of the third grade are at a disadvantage for life.

The Early Learning Foundation offers training and assessment tools to help you transform outcomes in these crucial early years. The Essential Skill Inventories (Preschool through Grade 3) supports the use of systematic measurement of progress toward essential outcomes. Training is available to help staff design learning opportunities at the instructional level of students for literacy, numeracy, language, motor skills, behavior and social skills.

Any education agency with a digital database for the Essential Skills Inventories is invited to obtain a free license to use these materials in electronic form. The license will include a commitment to the staff training necessary for successful implementation of these materials for formative assessment and responsive instruction. For more information, contact

To use print versions of the PK-Grade 3 Essential Skill Inventories and Rubrics, contact Free license agreements or purchase options are available.

Research Projects Using the Essential Skill Inventories:

Simpson Central School, Pinola, MS.  This rural school of about 500 students is a Title 1 school serving 20 small surrounding communities, with over 75% eligibility for free or reduced lunch, and a student population of 52% Caucasian and 48% African American.  The school historically demonstrated over 60% of students performing below grade level in reading at the end of third grade, and special education rates above state and national average.  After learning to use the Essential Skill Inventories as a competency framework, and to consistently personalize instruction to help each child build essential skills, proficiency rates on grade 3 state achievement tests increased from 37% in literacy to over 85%, and from 59% in math to over 90% proficiency.  This previously struggling school became an “A” rated school of excellence, in spite of high rates of family poverty.

Corinth-Alcorn-Prentiss Learning Collaborative, MS:  At the beginning of the 2015-16 school year, preschool students in the Corinth-Alcorn-Prentiss Learning Collaborative were tested using the Star Early Literacy assessment as part of a state-wide assessment process.  Only 20.1% of these children scored at or above a standard score of 498, the level associated with readiness for Kindergarten entry.  Staff was given training in the use of the Preschool Essential Skill Inventories, and learned to monitor progress weekly, and know their students’ learning needs more precisely.

By the end of the year, more than 85% of the students showed the literacy skills for K readiness.  This pattern of growth gave this collaborative in Northeast Mississippi the highest rate of kindergarten literacy readiness in the state, along with the second highest rate of scaled score improvement in the state.

The Historic South Initiative, Toledo, Ohio:  Working with Dr. Sornson and using the Preschool Essential Skill Inventory, this initiative offers students who are not attending preschool weekly home-visits to help parents learn more about academic and behavior development in preparation for Kindergarten.