Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

VPK Programs Helping Kids but Area's Centers Need Help; Readiness for School Improving, Data Shows

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

VPK Programs Helping Kids but Area's Centers Need Help; Readiness for School Improving, Data Shows

Article excerpt

Byline: Topher Sanders

More Florida children are entering kindergarten ready to learn, indicating early learning centers offering the state's Voluntary Prekindergarten program deserve much of the credit.

Nearly 82 percent of kindergarten students assessed scored ready-for-school, according to state data released last week. That's about 2,300 more students ready-for-school than last year.

"Since the program began, readiness rate results clearly suggest that attending and completing VPK helps 4-year-olds be ready for kindergarten," said Shan Goff, executive director of Florida's Officer of Early Learning. "Children who learn early learn for their lifetime."

Improvement seen in Northeast Florida follows the state trend with 84 percent of assessed kindergarten students scoring ready-for-school in the five-county region. That's an increase of about 500 kindergarten students ready-for-school in the last year.

About 174,000 4-year-old children participated statewide in the free VPK program in 2012-13. The children are assessed in the first month of kindergarten.

Half the assessment determines if children are developmentally prepared, so it measures such things as being able to run on the playground, use scissors and share appropriately. The other half tests how many letters of the alphabet a child knows, the sounds of the letters and some vocabulary words.

While the number of low-performing VPK programs is down, the number of the state's continually low-performing programs - those with three or more consecutive low-performing ratings - has increased by 33 percent, according to the 2012-13 data.

And in the five-county Northeast Florida region the number of continually low-performing programs has more than doubled from 9 to 24, driven mostly by increases in Duval County.

A program is labeled low-performing if fewer than 70 percent of the children who are assessed score ready-for-kindergarten. When a program is low performing for three consecutive years, the provider must apply for a good-cause exemption to remain in the state initiative.

In 2010-11, the state changed its accountability system for VPK programs. Beginning that year children had to show readiness on two measures, where previously one measure was acceptable. Also the Legislature eliminated a provision in state law that only allowed for the bottom 15 percent of providers to be deemed low-performing.

As a result, 2,122 programs were deemed low-performing, nearly tripling the number from the previous year. State and local officials say that is why there's a large increase in the number of centers that have been rated as low-performing for three years in a row.

Providers are becoming more accustomed to the accountability system. Also, low-performing providers have been forced by the state to make improvements to their curriculum and their planning. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.