All-day kindergarten prepping kids for school

Posted at 7:01 AM, Jan 16, 2016

With the Ohio Department of Education emphasizing the importance of kindergarten readiness, many school districts are focusing on preschool education. Because readiness is assessed during the kindergarten year, though, Franklin City School District officials are directing their attention at the kids already in school.

The district this school year implemented full-day kindergarten in an effort to improve performance and better prepare students for the rest of their primary- and secondary-school years.

“Having full-day kindergarten, we’ll be able to spend more time with the students to help close the gap,” Superintendent Michael Sander said.

Although the district has previously offered an extended school day for kindergartners considered at risk, the option was discontinued more than a decade ago.

The district has some of the area’s lowest kindergarten readiness assessment scores for literacy and received a score of 38.6 percent — a “D” grade — in kindergarten through third-grade literacy in 2014.

“We have always been lowest in Warren County,” kindergarten teacher Antoinette Coleman said. “Some parents are not able to afford preschool, and a lot of times they don’t take advantage of Head Start.”

More on Head Start

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Full-day kindergarten was one of the incentives promised to voters for approving a five-year 7.92 mill levy in May 2014. Prior to that, the district had not passed a levy since 2005.

After a levy request was rejected in 2013, school board members promised multiple incentives to let voters know specifically what the money would go toward.

“We’re a high-poverty district, and I think it’s important to realize our population does not have a lot of disposable income,” Sander said. “I think that’s important to have that trust from the stakeholders in the district.”

In addition to offering full-day kindergarten, the district increased College Credit Plus courses, which allow students to earn high school and college credits simultaneously. Franklin High School now offers nine College Credit Plus courses and will have two more next school year.

The district also upgraded its technological infrastructure, which will enable students of nearly all grade levels to complete state testing online this spring. “We couldn’t give tests online because we did not have the technological backbone to support that,” Sander said.

While some of the effects of the levy are still yet to be seen, the results of full-day kindergarten are starting to set in.

With teachers’ piloting textbooks, it’s evident that the extended learning not offered in previous years is helping, Coleman said. “I have noticed students are reading a little earlier than usual.”

Some students, who were unaccustomed to a full day of school, used to fall asleep during a post-lunch rest period, but that hasn’t happened lately. “They’ve gotten accustomed to an all-day setting,” Coleman said.

Is your child ready?

The Ohio Department of Education offers online resources about kindergarten readiness: