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Interesting report – “The Full Story on Full Day Kindergarten” April 10, 2008

Posted by kindergartenwatch in Funding.
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The Economic Opportunity Institute has authored an in-depth report called The Full Story on Full Day on the benefits of kindergarten and where Washington state is headed. The report describes the benefits of full-day kindergarten, limitations in current offerings, and how we’re not keeping pace with several other states. The report provides interesting details and insight.

“Fewer than 40% of kindergartners in Washington State participate in full-day kindergarten. Availability of the program is limited and adequate funding is difficult to secure.”

 Here’s an excerpt on the importance of kindergarten:

“Full-day kindergarten provides a myriad of benefits for students and for the broader community. From increased academic achievement and school readiness to more time for meaningful instruction and increased continuity in coursework, full-day kindergarten lays the foundation for a robust public education.”

The report describes the long-term economic benefit for the state, in terms of students requiring less long-term support or tutoring and maximizing their potential. There’s also a major economic benefit and increased productivity for parents, who would otherwise have to stay out of the workforce or pay for more expensive private options.

“Full-day kindergarten results in increased academic achievement and school readiness for participants. It not only produces positive, long-term economic benefits for individuals and society, it also results in immediate returns for families, schools, and Washington State’s bottom line.”

Washington state, however, ranks poorly when compared with the states that have made a greater commitment. Currently, there’s a patchwork approach among the state’s districts, with varying availability and costs to parents.

Some districts have made a greater comitment than others, such as Bellevue, Yakima, and Tacoma. Bellevue administrators, for example, state that the investment in time and energy early on helps to create a solid foundation for later success. In other districts — such as the Lake Washington School District, for example — dozens of students cannot obtain full-time kindergarten in some neighborhood schools for 2008-2009, because availability and space are limited.

In addition to availability issues, the costs of full-time kindergarten — which parents help to bear — are barriers to some Washington state families. Although the state is phasing in funding for a percentage of students in some districts, other students and schools are slipping through the cracks.

Although Washington State is working on a 10-year ramp-up strategy, the report estimates that “almost 325,000 students will have been denied state support by the time the state will fund all kindergartners.” Some states, however, already mandate full-time kindergarten, and others are ramping up to full-time in 5 years.

“All children in Washington critically need full-day kindergarten. A decade is too long to wait. Fullday kindergarten constitutes a fundamental part of basic education and should be treated and legislated as such.”

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