Dr. La’Tara O. Lampkin has the rare quality of simultaneously being an authority in a rigorous academic field, while retaining a down-to-earth demeanor and the empathy to explain her area of study to any audience. As an Associate in Research at Florida State University, and former Assistant Professor of Educational Policy and Leadership at the University of North Florida, she is an expert in education issues ranging from early childhood learning to higher education. Dr. Lampkin has led several federally-funded projects researching and implementing efforts to improve student outcomes, especially for diverse student populations like poor, minority, and homeless students, and students in Florida’s lowest-performing schools. Among these projects is her work examining extended reading instruction in early childhood to improve achievement for all students.
Dr. Lampkin led the “Getting Young Children Ready for School” breakout session at the ONE by ONE Convention on January 23, helping to bring to life the passion Jacksonville’s community has for its youngest students. One of the key themes of her presentation was that it is never too early to begin preparing a child for school and that this preparation can help diminish inequality.
Research, including Dr. Lampkin’s, has shown that there are a number of early childhood practices to improve a child’s outcomes later in life. For example, parents enrolling their child in Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) and actively participating in the child’s at-home learning helps ensure they are Kindergarten-Ready by age 5 and have a strong base for their educational future.
Many of the discussions around the tables at this breakout session centered on the role of programs like Head Start and measures of kindergarten readiness like the Florida Assessment for Instruction in Reading (FAIR). Also discussed were the roles of standardized training for early-childhood teachers and the necessity of increased awareness for importance of helping children learn as early in life as possible. In the past few years, Duval County kindergarten readiness rates have hovered around 90%, ranking 6th out of the 7 large urban counties in Florida.