Free, full-day kindergarten coming to Eatonville schools

10:52 am August 12th, 2013

The Eatonville School District will begin offering tuition-free, all-day kindergarten for all students beginning with the start of the 2013-14 school year in September.
Superintendent Krestin Bahr, who writes about the program in the following article, said the program will be provided even though the district didn’t qualify for full state funding.
“We are committed to providing all of our students equal access and opportunity,” she said.

By Krestin Bahr
Beginning in the fall of 2013-14, all Eatonville School District elementary schools will be offering tuition-free, full–day Kindergarten (K) to all students.
Research is clear that full-day kindergarten boosts children’s cognitive learning, creative problem-solving and imagination and ability to be successful in school. Although we did not qualify for full-day K funding from the state this past biennium, we are committed to providing all of our student’s equal access and opportunity.
It is universally recognized that early-learning interventions provide one of the best “return on investment” of educational funds. It is important to recognize, however, as we work to reduce the achievement gap, we must first address the opportunities we provide to all of our students.
After analyzing our staffing and currently enrolled kindergartners for the 2013-14 school year, we have established the priority to include this program change. We know that this will impact our families, and want to get the word out as parents are making their enrollment decisions.
The principals are excited to work with their staff, and to communicate this opportunity to our parents and community.
Research shows full day kindergartners;
• Are more prepared for school. They do better with the transition to first grade, show significant gains in school socialization, and are equipped with stronger learning skills.
• Have higher academic achievement in later grades.
• Have better attendance in kindergarten and through the primary grades.
• Show faster gains on literacy and language measures when compared to half-day kindergarten students.
• Have enhanced social, emotional and behavior development.
• Have reduced retention and remediation rates.
New studies are being released that show the importance of a seamless early childhood learning continuum beginning in pre-K and continuing into third grade. Criteria for a successful early learning continuum includes a full-day K staffed with highly qualified teachers and curriculum alignment throughout the continuum. Student achievement among children attending full-day K is proving to be greater than for those who attend a half-day kindergarten.
In addition, our school district will be submitting our willingness to be a voluntary WaKids district. If selected, this will allow our educators the ability to be trained to assess our incoming kindergarten students based on the new OSPI (Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction) WaKids assessments which will be required upon state full-day K funding in 2015.
There are three WaKids components:
• Building family connections. This component is to bring together teachers, students and families to get to know each other, share information about the child and support the child’s transition to kindergarten. The goal is to have this meeting before or near the beginning of the school year.
• Assessing students’ developmental levels.
• Collaborating with early-learning providers.
Please assist us in spreading the good news, as this will impact the entire K-12 system as we look at providing a quality educational opportunity for all Eatonville students.
Together, we commit to excellence in education and preparation for life.

Krestin Bahr is superintendent of the Eatonville School District.

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