Wednesday, May 2, 2012

WaKIDS work team created by Legislature meets for first time

A work team created by the 2012 Legislature in House Bill 2586 met for the first time today to review progress on implementing the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS) and begin creating recommendations to inform WaKIDS.

The work team is legislatively charged with making recommendations on:
  • Administering WaKIDS, including in half-day kindergarten classrooms.
  • How to achieve the legislative intent of replacing various kindergarten assessments used around the state with WaKIDS as the kindergarten entry tool.
The work team includes kindergarten teachers, principals, parents and representatives from DEL, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Thrive by Five Washington and Encompass.

WaKIDS is a process that:
  • Welcomes students and their families to kindergarten as partners in education.
  • Assesses students' strengths at the start of the kindergarten school year in several developmental domains (social/emotional, physical, language, cognition, literacy and math).
  • Encourages early learning providers to participate in ensuring a smooth transition into the K-12 system.
  • Engages the state in a conversation about characteristics of children's development and learning that will enable them to be successful in school.
Beginning in the 2012-13 school year, WaKIDS is mandatory for all state-funded full-day kindergarten classrooms. Five school districts have applied for and been granted one-year waivers from participating in WaKIDS next school year. At least 22,000 incoming kindergarteners will participate in WaKIDS next year, up from 7,300 in the current school year.

Work team members got an overview of WaKIDS implementation to date, and an update on how WaKIDS teacher input, including a teacher survey in fall 2011, has influenced the WaKIDS process:
  • OSPI and DEL are enhancing teacher trainings on Teaching Strategies GOLD, the tool used to measure where each child is in his or her development at the start of kindergarten.
  • The online data entry tool for GOLD has been streamlined and customized for Washington; and teachers this coming school year will only need to enter students' names, dates of birth and ID numbers to create their classroom roster.
  • OSPI and DEL have worked with the Educational Service Districts to create a regional network of support for teachers using WaKIDS.
  • Real-world tips from teachers on how to successfully integrate WaKIDS into the classroom are being collected to share online.
  • Introducing Me, a booklet parents can use when they meet with families at the start of the year, is being translated into 11 languages.
The work team will meet again in June. Their preliminary recommendations are due to the Legislature on December 1, 2012.

WaKIDS is funded with state dollars, the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant, and private contributions from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Thrive by Five Washington. Learn more at

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