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Kindergarten investment — pay now or pay later? April 22, 2008

Posted by kindergartenwatch in Early Learning.
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If children get a stronger start in school, some studies show that districts will pay less in the long-term for remedial programs or to retain students who can’t keep up.

Full-day kindergarten produces cost savings to schools as fewer students will require remediation services in later grades or be retained in a lower grade level,” according to the Full Story on Full Day report by the Washington Economic Opportunity Institute.

In a Minnesota study, students in all-day programs showed increases in every skill tested, which helped to close achievement gaps. Here are two examples:

 After a Winona elementary school implemented an all-day K program, the number of “learning disabled” students dropped by 25%; children’s letter sound recognition increased 34%; and children’s knowledge of upper and lower case letters increased 24%.

–Elementary Principal Judy Davis

In Burnsville ‘s all-day K program, researchers found significant increases on every academic skill measured by pre-and post-tests, as well as elimination of the achievement gap among all racial/ethnic groups at the end of the kindergarten year.
 

–Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191
Superintendent Dr. Benjamin Kanninen

It seems like the better option is to make the investment in all-day kindergarten now, give chidren a better footing, and help close some learning gaps.

Currently, districts can offer all-day programs for a monthly charge to parents, when space is available. A few districts are phasing in paid, all-day programs, but the phase-in does not yet impact all districts.

Districts are currently not required to find space for all-day programs, and some hold lotteries for the available slots.

Full Story on Full Day: An Analysis of Kindergarten in Washington State

All Day, Every Day Kindergarten: Minneapolis Foundation 

Invest Now or Pay Later: Pennsylvania Build Initiative

School Improvements in Maryland

Full-Day Kindergarten Research

 

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Tacoma Schools making major investment in early childhood education April 14, 2008

Posted by kindergartenwatch in Funding.
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In February, the Tacoma School Board agreed to increase the availability of full-day kindergarten for all schools in the district.

Although the state is working on a long-term phase-in, the Tacoma School District is acting sooner, according to the “Tacoma School Board agrees to fund free full-day kindergarten”  article in the News Tribune.

The costs will apparently run about $3 million for materials, salaries, and facilities changes.  According to the article, assistant superintendent Michael Power told the School Board that:

Kids who start their school careers with a full day of learning do better in the long run .

It’s “a very consistent finding” in numerous studies dating back more than 20 years, he said.

This blog author believes that families should have the option to choose full-day vs. half-day, based on the family’s situation and preferences, but that access to full-day should be an option for everyone. Several studies show the value of full-day programs, and many states are ahead of Washington in providing access.

Although one reason for the decision appears to be the district’s efforts to comply with the federal performance requirements, the school board should still be commended on its bold move. If Tacoma can show its support of early childhood education, why can’t other districts?