By Brittany Hanson/Garden Grove Journal
Just how ready for kindergarten are kindergarteners? That was the question that the state legislation were, asking and answered with “The Kindergarten Readiness Act.”
Sara Wescott, assistant superintendent of elementary education presented on the act Tuesday at the Garden Grove Unified School District board meeting, detailing the proposed legislative solution: Transitional Kindergarten.
Wescott and others conveyed frustration with the fact that the Transitional Kindergarten move, which is based on age, does not take into account that development is impacted by environmental factors and that age is not indicative of readiness.
The law requires that district must offer the program to students who turn 5 between Nov. 2 to Dec.2 in 2012-13, Oct. 2 to Dec. 2 in 2013-14 and Sept. 2 to Dec. 2 in 2014-15.
Participation for students is voluntary and Transitional Kindergarten would be a one-year course that would better prepare students for further education, in the legislators minds, closing the learning gap that sometimes occurs in early grades.
“Sometimes students who are not ready for kindergarten do not perform as well [later in school],” said Wescott.
Trial implementation of Transitional Kindergarten was not in the cards this year, but it may start soon.
“We may start piloting next year. We could pilot something with those students, that turn five [during the course of the school year], that would go to kindergarten the next year. We would have to look at host sites or if each site could host the Transitional kindergarten class alongside the regular kindergarten class,” said Wescott.
Some of the issues that board members and Wescott mentioned are that there are no listed standards or curriculum for the concept of Transitional Kindergarten, trying to ensure that Kindergarten isn’t just a repeat of Transitional Kindergarten.
“I think quite honestly, as sometimes happens, they [legislators] didn’t think of everything, like we have to in implementation. Like standards,” Superintendent Laura Schwalm said,
“They’ve tried to fit an extra year in there, but didn’t really think about it or how they would do it. I think that we’re going to have to try to be very, very thoughtful about how to put this together.”
The upside, said Wescott, is that it could be an opportunity to reach more students.
“When we first heard about this we were very excited about the prospect, we always want to find new ways to reach our students earlier . . . if we have a better opportunity to service our kids we want to position ourselves so that we could be ready to do it,” said Wescott.