USD 470 One Of Two Districts Statewide To Notch ‘Silver Star’ In Kindergarten Readiness


USD 470 recently received news from the Kansas State Department of Education that the district achieved the Kansans Can “Silver Star” Award in the area of Kindergarten Readiness.

Kindergarten Readiness is one area of the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation model, a news release from the district about the award said.

KESA is based on districts creating and implementing a continuous process of improvement. The Kansans Can Star Awards help districts identify where they want to focus their efforts regarding State Board of Education-identified outcomes.

USD 470 is one of only two school districts in Kansas recognized at the silver level of recognition in the area of kindergarten readiness.

“We are excited to see the hard work of teachers and staff in our district recognized at this prestigious level,” USD 470 Director of Curriculum and Instruction Braden Smith said.

The work to renew the district’s accreditation is focused on five key areas: tiered systems of support, kindergarten readiness, physical and mental health, post secondary success, and stakeholder engagement.

“The work taking place in early childhood education is foundational to all of these areas in that it reaches students in their earliest years and prepares them for continued success throughout their time in the district,” Smith said.

The district engaged a diverse team of employees to collect and submit evidence of kindergarten readiness best practices within the district.

The USD 470 Kindergarten Readiness team includes: Tara Taylor, Cowley Head Start Director; Amy Hutto, elementary principal; Ellen Cales, academic coach; Hannah Demaree, Cowley Head Start Education Coordinator; and Lindsay Wilke, Early Literacy Coordinator.

According to Tara Taylor, the USD 470 Preschool Program serves approximately 230 three and four-year-olds.

“We are working hard to ensure that students have access to quality, evidence-based  learning in the classroom and that our staff members receive the training and support they need to implement best practices,” Taylor said. “We have also made an intentional effort to connect with community partners serving children ages 0-5 to ensure that families experience a streamlined system of support and services.

“All of these factors contributed to our Silver Star award status.”

The district was further selected to present about its kindergarten readiness work at the KSDE Great Ideas in Education Conference later this month. The presentation will highlight specifically how the district utilized the Kansans Can STAR Rubric and Head Start Performance Standards in the KESA accreditation process.

To learn more about USD 470 PreK and how to enroll your child please visit For more information about the Kansans Can Star Recognition Program, please visit