Friday, May 13, 2011

Big news for WaKIDS! Kindergarten transition bill signed into law

On Thursday, Governor Chris Gregoire signed Senate Bill 5427, which will support school readiness for the 70,000-plus children who enter kindergarten in Washington each year.

Governor Gregoire signs WaKIDS bill, with DEL Director Bette Hyde, Rep. Ruth Kagi and early learning advocates looking on.
 SB 5427 names the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS) as the kindergarten transition process for all state-funded full-day kindergarten classes. This is voluntary during school year 2011-2012, and mandatory for those classes beginning in school year 2012-2013. The bill is contingent upon funding in the final 2011-2013 state operating budget. Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe sponsored the bill (Rep. Ruth Kagi sponsored the House version).

So why WaKIDS? This program—which DEL and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction are piloting in 120 classrooms around the state right now—brings together families, early learning providers and kindergarten teachers to help get every child off to a strong start in kindergarten. 

First, teachers meet one-on-one with families to learn more about the children they will be teaching—their hopes, their strengths and needs, their worries and their family culture. Then, teachers get a snapshot of their students through an assessment of the child’s social/emotional; cognitive; linguistic; and physical development. And finally, the barriers between early learning and kindergarten are removed as teachers and early learning providers meet together to share information about children.

The University of Washington will deliver a final evaluation of the WaKIDS pilot year next month. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Thrive by Five Washington provided additional funding for the pilot year.

Good things happen for children when the right people are at the table—WaKIDS helps bring those people together. In Maryland, for example, where they’ve had a kindergarten readiness assessment since 2001, the percent of kindergarteners ready for school rose 32 points during the decade, from 49 percent to 81 percent. A report on Maryland’s success is available online.

Learn more about Washington’s efforts at

No comments: