School Boss: Kindergarten Students To Be Held To Higher Standard
August 13, 2009
Kindergarten is going to be different this year in Escambia County. There will still be plenty of crayons, nap time, recess, and Dr. Seuss, but there will also be focus goals and benchmarks for students and teachers alike.
Kindergarten teachers were back at work Wednesday, three days before other grade level instructors, to learn about Superintendent Malcom Thomas’ curriculum goal that says within three years 90-percent of all second grade students will read on grade level.
“That means we start this year in kindergarten with clearly identifiable goals,” Thomas told NorthEscambia.com Wednesday night. This year’s kindergarten students will be those second graders in 2012-2013 — three years from now.
“If you can’t read, it is going to be hard on you in every subject area at every grade level,” Thomas said.
The first major grade level indicator currently does not occur until the FCAT in third grade. But Thomas plans to change that, teaching teachers how to recognize and determine if a student is performing at grade level beginning at different points during kindergarten.
Thomas said he expects the kindergarten retention rate to increase.
“There was no accountability until the third grade FCAT,” he said. “And we are really handicapped at that point if a child has missed the basics of learning to read.”
The accountability, Thomas added, will extend to teachers as well. Kindergarten teachers attended a workshop Wednesday to learn more about the accountability plan.
The accountability plan will extend next year to the first grade, and to the second grade the following year, as this year’s kindergarten students progress.
Most schools, Thomas said, will give parents an opportunity to meet with their child’s kindergarten teacher to have the curriculum goals explained.
At Molino Park Elementary School, those meetings will take place today and Friday.