School board approves general education preschool and early entrance kindergarten
School board approves general education preschool and early entrance kindergarten
Posted on 03/07/2018
School board approves plan for two early learning programs

In order to increase opportunities for young children to prepare for kindergarten the Puyallup School District will offer preschool and an early entrance kindergarten program.


Preschool classroomThe Board of Directors took action to proceed with the two early learning programs at its March 5, 2018 meeting.

Preschool will be tuition based and designed for students who are four years of age and is in addition to the special education preschool programs currently serving students throughout the district. Recognizing that not all children have access to preschool, the school board approved the implementation of an early entrance kindergarten program. The early entrance kindergarten program is called Kindergarten Academy. These two programs will provide another option for families. Early learning opportunities such as those found in a preschool increase equity, equal opportunity, and high performance for students.

Increased capacity in the new and rebuilt elementary schools as a result of the 2015 School Construction and Facility Improvements bond will provide classroom space to support the preschool classrooms and Kindergarten Academy. Both the preschool program and early entrance kindergarten will be strategically located amongst the three regions in the district. This will provide options for local access for families.

Preschool

Early LearningThe preschool program will be half-day sessions with morning and afternoon options. 

Four classes will be offered per region — two sessions in the morning and two in the afternoon. Each session will serve approximately 22 students.

Classes will be phased in over two years beginning in the fall of 2019 at Maplewood and Firgrove elementary schools. Region 1 preschool will begin at Pope Elementary in the fall of 2020.

There will be a tuition fee to participate. In order to provide affordability and access for low income families there will be an opportunity for free or reduced pricing to those who qualify.


Kindergarten Academy

In the State of Washington students must be five years of age by August 31 to enroll in kindergarten. The Kindergarten Academy is designed as an early entrance full day kindergarten program for students who turn five after August 31 and will be five the following school year. It will be funded by state revenue and there will be no cost to families.

This program is intended to support students who have not had an opportunity for preschool and show an ability and/or need for a developmentally appropriate kindergarten readiness experience.

The sessions will be scheduled for the second semester of the school year and will last approximately 20 weeks.

The Kindergarten Academy will begin serving students in January/February 2020.

Kindergarten readiness

Statistics show that less than 50 percent of children begin school meeting kindergarten readiness performance indicators.

The achievement gap of incoming kindergarten students is far greater than other achievement gaps found in later grades. This is due mostly to the fact that some of our youngest learners do not have the opportunity to attend a formal preschool program or any other type of early learning experience prior to entering kindergarten. 

“WE HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO REDUCE THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP AT THE ONSET OF A CHILD’S EDUCATIONAL CAREER BY POSITIVITY INFLUENCING THE ACADEMIC AND SOCIAL/EMOTIONAL GROWTH OF OUR YOUNGEST LEARNERS WITHIN A REGIONALIZED PRESCHOOL PROGRAM.”
CHIEF INSTRUCTIONAL LEADERSHIP OFFICER VINCE PECCHIA.

For this reason, the district has set a goal to increase the percentage of children entering kindergarten who can demonstrate specific learning characteristics.

When students begin kindergarten they are given a whole-child assessment where teachers observe and record each child’s developing skills in six areas: social-emotional, physical, cognitive, language, literacy, and mathematics.

Student assessments for kindergartners begin in the fall. These performance indicators are compared to scores the following spring. The assessments include:

  · Washington Kindergarten Inventory Developing Skills (WaKIDS)
  · Read Well Placement Inventory
  · Dynamic Indicators of Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS)
  · Bridge Assessment Data

PreschoolerThe Student Learning and Special Services departments have been working with families and early learning centers for many years to prepare students for kindergarten.

They reach out on an ongoing basis to form relationships, strengthen ties, and provide information. These relationships provide an opportunity to communicate the academic, social, and emotional experiences children should have before they enter kindergarten and assist in providing programs that support them.





Did you know?

  · Every year a conference with community early learning providers is sponsored by the district.
  · A Linkages committee consisting of providers and district staff meets monthly to learn from each other 
    and help ease the transition to
kindergarten for students.
  · The district has contracted with a childcare provider called Right At School to offer before and after
     childcare in all elementary schools. Designed for students in preschool through grade six, the program
    has curriculum aligned to district standards and can target individual student needs.
  · Ready for Kindergarten classes are offered to parents and guardians of children beginning kindergarten
    the following school year. The series of three classes are held at various times and locations throughout
    the school year. Parents are encouraged to talk, sing, read, and play in simple ways that foster essential
    pre-literacy, pre-math, and social-emotional skills. They receive an early learning tool kit for each class
    containing age-appropriate learning materials to use with their child.

Research committee, considerations, and planning

In 2016 a small committee was formed to explore the possibility of a implementing a Puyallup School District early learning plan and make a recommendation to the school board. Members came from district departments including Instructional Leadership, Special Services, Business Services, Operations, and an elementary principal. The committee considered district programs, staff, and curriculum. They traveled to other local districts to study preschool and early learning implementations.

The committee shared information with the school board about preschool and an early entrance kindergarten program on January 26, 2018. The school board revisited the preschool and early entrance kindergarten plan on February 26, 2018 before making its unanimous decision to adopt both programs on March 5, 2018. 

Last fall a survey was taken to provide input from parents and guardians with preschool age children. They shared thoughts on what would most likely impact their decision to enroll their child in a tuition-based general education preschool if it were offered at their local elementary school. Click here to view the results of the survey. 


Nancy French
frenchnl@puyallup.k12.wa.us