OLR Research Report


December 18, 2013

 

2013-R-0455

KINDERGARTEN PROGRAMS IN CONNECTICUT

By: Marybeth Sullivan, Legislative Analyst II

You asked several questions about kindergarten programs in Connecticut, which we answer individually.

1. Is there any Connecticut or national data on whether full-day kindergarten has a positive academic impact on children as they enter first grade, and in particular on English Language Learners (ELLs)?

Over the past decade, multiple studies have examined the impact of full-day kindergarten enrollment on academic achievement in subsequent grades. The majority note that research results are mixed: some studies find that full-day programs yield benefits in first grade and as far as middle school, while others find benefits to be short-lived or confined only to the kindergarten year. The following publications explore these topics:

● Indiana University Bloomington's Center for Evaluation & Education Policy: Short-Lived Gains or Enduring Benefits? The Long-Term Impact of Full-Day Kindergarten (2005)

● National Institute for Early Education Research: Making the Most of Kindergarten: Present Trends and Future Issues in the Provision of Full-Day Programs (2005)

● WestEd: Full-Day Kindergarten: Expanding Learning Opportunities (2005)

● Educational Resource Information Center: Recent Research on All-Day Kindergarten (2009)

● Hanover Research: Full-Day Kindergarten and Academic Achievement (2010)

Additionally, Education Week spotlighted a study published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management that addresses the academic impact of full-day kindergarten on ELLs.

● Education Week: Full-Day Kindergarten Reduces Early Retention for ELLs (2011)

2. What are the academic standards for kindergarten in Connecticut, and how will they be affected by the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS)? Would full-day kindergarten align with or enhance CCSS requirements?

As of the publication of this report, 45 states, the District of Columbia, and four U.S. territories have adopted the CCSS. The Connecticut State Board of Education adopted the CCSS on July 7, 2010, and Connecticut public school districts have already begun implementing them. The standards are not a curriculum or test questions, but rather descriptive lists, organized by grade and subject matter, of specific skill areas and subject matter content that teachers must help their students master. Currently, English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics are the only subject areas the standards address.

Kindergarten CCSS ELA standards are organized according to the following categories: Reading: Literature; Reading: Informational Text; Reading: Foundational Skills; Writing; Speaking & Listening; and Language. Kindergarten CCSS mathematics standards are organized according to the following categories: Counting & Cardinality; Operations & Algebraic Thinking; Number & Operations in Base Ten; Measurement & Data; and Geometry.

SDE has published a draft document on its website that discusses the transition from Connecticut standards to CCSS kindergarten standards in mathematics: Mathematics Connecticut Preschool Standards to Common Core State Standards Continuum: Preschool – Kindergarten. However, no similar public document is available for ELA standards. OLR asked SDE for a kindergarten ELA document, as well as an update on the draft status of the mathematics document. We will make the department's answer available when we receive it.

3. Which Connecticut school districts provide full-day kindergarten and which do not? Of those that do not, how many are among the lowest performing districts in the state?

According to SDE's preliminary October 1, 2012 student census data, every public school district in Connecticut offered full-, extended-, or half-day kindergarten, or some combination of the three during the 2012-13 school year. The difference between these three types of programs is explained below. Also, several Regional Education Service Centers (RESCs) operate magnet schools that offer kindergarten programs, and several charter schools also offer them. Regional public school districts offer kindergarten programs either through the regional system or by individual member towns in the district.

A full-day kindergarten program provides 900 hours of actual schoolwork for a minimum of 180 days. It is provided to all children (95%-100% enrollment) by 103 school districts, seven charter schools, and 11 magnet schools. Table 1 lists these schools and districts.

Table 1: Schools and Districts Providing Full-Day Kindergarten to All Children

Districts

Andover

Eastford

Manchester

Plymouth

Westbrook

Ashford

East Granby

Mansfield

Preston

West Hartford

Bethany

East Haddam

Meriden

Putnam

Weston

Bethel

East Hartford

Middletown

Ridgefield

Wethersfield

Bloomfield

East Haven

Milford

Salem

Willington

Bozrah

Easton

Naugatuck

Salisbury

Winchester

Branford

East Windsor

New Britain

Scotland

Windham

Bridgeport

Essex

New Canaan

Seymour

Windsor

Brookfield

Franklin

New Fairfield

Sharon

Windsor Locks

Canaan

Glastonbury

New Haven

Sherman

Wolcott

Chaplin

Granby

Newington

Simsbury

Woodbridge

Chester

Greenwich

New London

Sprague

Woodstock

Clinton

Groton

New Milford

Stamford

Regional District 6

Colebrook

Hamden

Norfolk

Sterling

Regional District 10

Columbia

Hampton

North Branford

Thomaston

Regional District 12

Cornwall

Hartford

North Canaan

Thompson

Regional District 13

Coventry

Hebron

North Haven

Trumbull

Regional District 14

Cromwell

Kent

North Stonington

Union

Regional District 17

Darien

Lebanon

Norwalk

Voluntown

Regional District 18

Deep River

Lisbon

Old Saybrook

Waterbury

 

Derby

Litchfield

Plainville

Waterford

 

Charter Schools

Achievement First Bridgeport (Bridgeport)

Achievement First Hartford Academy (Hartford)

Amistad Academy District (New Haven)

Elm City College Preparatory School (New Haven)

Highville Charter School District (Hamden)

Integrated Day Charter School (Norwich)

Side By Side Community School (Norwalk)

Magnet Schools*

Discovery Academy (Hartford)

Glastonbury-East Hartford Magnet School (East Hartford)

International Magnet School for Global Citizenship (East Hartford)

Montessori Magnet School (Hartford)

Museum Academy (Hartford)

Reggio Magnet School of the Arts (Avon)

Regional Multicultural Magnet School (New London)

Six-to-Six Magnet School (Bridgeport)

The Friendship School (Waterford)

University of Hartford Magnet School (West Hartford)

Wintergreen Interdistrict Magnet School (Hamden)

*This listing includes magnet schools operated by Regional Education Service Centers. District-operated magnet schools are included within the district listings.

An extended-day kindergarten program is longer than a half-day program and shorter than a full-day: it provides more than 450 hours but less than 900 hours of actual schoolwork for a minimum of 180 days. It is provided to all children (95%-100% enrollment) by 9 districts and 1 charter school. Table 2 lists these schools and districts.

Table 2: Schools and Districts Providing Extended Day Kindergarten to All Children

Districts

Ellington

Hartland

Norwich

Orange

Redding

Somers

Tolland

Westport

Wilton

Charter Schools

New Beginnings Family Academy

Half-day kindergarten programs provide 450 hours of actual school work for a minimum of 180 days. It is provided to all children (95%-100% enrollment) by 36 school districts, listed in Table 3.

Table 3: Districts Offering Half-Day Kindergarten to All Children

Providing to All Children

Ansonia

Griswold (97%)

Pomfret (97%)

Avon

Guilford (98%)

Portland

Barkhamstead

Killingly

Rocky Hill

Berlin

Ledyard

Shelton

Bolton

Madison

Southington (95%)

Bristol

Marlborough (99%)

South Windsor

Brooklyn

Monroe

Stafford

Canterbury

Montville (99%)

Wallingford

Cheshire

New Hartford

Watertown (96%)

East Lyme (97%)

Newtown (95%)

West Haven

Enfield (95%)

Oxford (91%)

Regional District 15 (100%)

Farmington

Plainfield

Regional District 16 (100%)

Additionally, several districts offer a mix of kindergarten programs, using two or all three models. Table 4 lists these districts, along with their enrollment percentages for each program model offered.

Table 4: Districts Offering a Mix of Kindergarten Programs

Districts

 

Full-Day

Enrollment

Extended-Day

Enrollment

Half-Day

Enrollment

Canton

 

52%

48%

Colchester

25%

 

75%

Danbury

68%

 

32%

East Hampton

14%

 

86%

Enfield

5%

 

95%

Fairfield

 

12%

88%

Glastonbury

93%

6%

1%

Griswold

3%

 

97%

Guilford

2%

 

98%

Marlborough

1%

 

99%

Meriden

13%

 

87%

Montville

1%

 

99%

Newtown

 

5%

95%

Norwich

(unclear whether 85% full day or 85% extended day)

Oxford

 

9%

91%

Pomfret

3%

 

97%

Southington

4%

1%

95%

Stonington

8%

8%

85%

Stratford

88%

 

12%

Suffield

8%

 

92%

Tolland

6%

94%

 

Torrington

7%

 

91%

Vernon

2%

43%

56%

Watertown

4%

 

96%

Wethersfield

2%

 

98%

Charter Schools

 

Full-Day

Enrollment

Extended-Day

Enrollment

Half-Day

Enrollment

Jumoke Academy District

83%

28%

 

SDE categorizes school districts according to their performance by using District Reference Groups (DRGs). DRGs are nine school district groupings, from letters A through I, organized according to student achievement and various socio-economic factors. DRG “I” contains the seven lowest performing school districts in the state (Bridgeport, Hartford, New Britain, New Haven, New London, Waterbury, and Windham). All of these school districts have full-day kindergarten programs.

4. Please provide a legislative history of previous full-day kindergarten proposals in the General Assembly.

Since 1995, 22 bills containing full-day kindergarten proposals have been introduced in the General Assembly. Table 5 summarizes the bills' proposals and outcomes.

Table 5: Bills Containing Full-Day Kindergarten Proposals

Bill

Proposal

Outcome

1995

Proposed Bill 5242

Require all Connecticut public school districts to offer full-day kindergarten by 1998

Referred to Education Committee; no action

Proposed Bills 5569 and 6139

Establish an early childhood school readiness program that includes state financial assistance for expanded opportunities for extended and full-day kindergarten programs that serve neediest children first

Referred to Education Committee; no action

Proposed Bill 5580

Establish an early childhood school readiness program that provides state financial incentive for expanded opportunities for extended and full-day kindergarten programs, serving the neediest children first

Referred to Education Committee; no action

1998

Proposed Bill 5089

Increase priority school district grants by $1,437,220 to provide a grant to Waterbury Board of Education for all-day kindergarten for 27 classes

Referred to Education Committee; no action

sHB 5657

Establish early reading success grants to help priority districts and schools establish full-day kindergarten programs

Add an additional 10% state reimbursement for construction projects related to establishing all-day kindergarten programs in priority districts and schools

Public Act 98-243

Amended bill to reduce additional state construction reimbursement to 5%

Proposed Bill 121

Phase-in full-day kindergarten programs

Referred to Education Committee; no action

2000

sSB 155

Appropriate $500,000 to the State Department of Education (SDE) for grants to priority school districts for additional full-day kindergarten programs

JFS by Education Committee to Appropriations Committee; Appropriations took no action

2001

sHB 6876

Increase the school construction bonus, from 5% to 10%, for any part of an elementary school building project in a priority district or school to be used primarily for a full-day kindergarten program

Require priority districts seeking funding for full-day kindergarten programs under the early reading success grant program to include in their plans information on how the kindergarten and school readiness programs will be coordinated to provide information on a child's transition from preschool to kindergarten

JFS by Education and Appropriations Committees

JF by Finance, Human Services, Public Safety and Legislative Management Committees

House took no action

HB 7502

Double the bonus to priority school districts (from 5 to 10%) for constructing facilities for full-day kindergarten programs

Require priority districts seeking funding for full-day kindergarten programs under the early reading success grant program to include in their plans information on how the kindergarten and school readiness programs will be coordinated to provide information on a child's transition from preschool to kindergarten

Bill emergency certified by leadership

Public Act 01-1

2002

Proposed Bill 5332

Empower the State Bond Commission to authorize bonds of up to $2 million to be used by SDE for additional space for full-day kindergarten and head start programs at Broadview School in Danbury

Referred to Education Committee; no action

2005

HB 1068

Allow the education commissioner to provide grants for children in the Hartford statewide interdistrict public school attendance program to participate in an all-day kindergarten program

JFS by Education Committee to Appropriations Committee, striking all language to require higher education institution's athletic departments to develop a policy about using automatic external defibrillators during athletic activities

HB 1347

Have the education commissioner establish a competitive grant program to assist priority school districts and districts that fail to make adequate yearly program to transition to full-day kindergarten programs

Referred to Education Committee and given a public hearing; no action

Proposed Bill 367

Phase-in over five years a universal, state-funded early childhood education program with a focus on pre-kindergarten and full-day kindergarten

Referred to Education Committee; no action

2006

Proposed Bill 5339

Fund priority school districts for the provision of full-day kindergarten for all five-year-old children who are not currently enrolled

Referred to Education Committee; no action

sSB 376

Require the education commissioner of give $250,000 in grants to priority school district boards of education that are establishing full-day kindergarten programs for the 2006-07 school year

JFS by Education Committee

Referred to Appropriations Committee; no action

2007

Proposed Bill 6524

Provide universal full-day kindergarten

Referred to Education Committee; no action

Proposed Bill 357

Provide a universal, state-funded early childhood education program with a focus on pre-kindergarten and full-day kindergarten, to be phased in over five years

Referred to Education Committee; no action

HB 8003, 32

June Special Session

Allow the education commissioner to require a school district to provide full-day kindergarten classes as a consequence of failing to make adequate yearly progress after two successive years

Bill emergency certified by leadership

Public Act 07-3, June Special Session

2011

sHB 6385, 20

Define “Crandall school program” as a program offered at a public school that has a specialized curriculum or theme, such as full-day kindergarten, that is designed to promote participation in the open choice program

Require SDE to establish a Crandall school program, within available appropriations, available to any board of education that helps the state meet the goals of the Sheff settlement

Allow the education commissioner to provide grants for children in a Crandall School program offered by the Hartford district to participate in full-day kindergarten programs, which includes before- and after-school care and remedial services

JFS by Education Committee to Appropriations Committee. Appropriations took no action.

HB 6432, 8

Require priority school districts to provide full-day kindergarten to all children who reside in the district by July 1, 2013

Referred to Education Committee and given a public hearing; no action

HB 6502

Define “Crandall school program” as a program offered at a public school that has a specialized curriculum or theme, such as full-day kindergarten, that is designed to promote participation in the open choice program

Require SDE to establish a Crandall school program, within available appropriations, available to any board of education that helps the state meet the goals of the Sheff settlement

Allow the education commissioner to provide grants for children in a Crandall School program offered by the Hartford district to participate in full-day kindergarten programs, which includes before- and after-school care and remedial services

Referred to Education Committee and given a public hearing; no action

2013

Proposed Bill 655

Create incentives for boards of education to establish full-day kindergarten

Referred to Education Committee; no action

5. What would it cost Connecticut to require full-day kindergarten?

The Office of Fiscal Analysis (OFA) posed this question to the State Department of Education (SDE). We will make the department's answer available when we receive it.

6. PA 12-116, 96 required SDE and the governor's Early Care and Education Cabinet to develop an information sharing system between preschool/school readiness programs and kindergarten regarding children's oral language and pre-literacy proficiency. What is the status of this system?

According to the Office of Early Childhood (OEC), SDE has decided that this system is not a stand-alone piece and instead will address it in multiple ways, including through a grade K-3 reading plan, a K-3 professional development plan, and a revised Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA).

A consortium of seven states (Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, and Ohio) and three partner organizations (WestEd, the Johns Hopkins University Center for Technology in Education, and UConn's Measurement, Evaluation, and Assessment Program) is currently developing a new KEA and aligned assessments for children aged three to six years. This multi-staged assessment is given at age three years, six years, and at kindergarten entry. It will provide information on each child's learning and development across school readiness domains, and it aims to produce reliable scores for individual children and groups or subgroups that can be used to (1) evaluate school readiness, (2) guide individualized instruction, and (3) better understand the effectiveness and professional development needs of teachers, principals, and early-learning providers.

By the 2016-17 school year, the consortium will develop an assessment system that includes a KEA that could be a component of a state student assessment system and a comprehensive early learning system. The assessment system could also provide data for incorporation into a state longitudinal data system.

7. What best practices for planning, data collection, and sharing does Connecticut use to transition students between early care and kindergarten?

According to OEC, there are currently no system-wide mechanisms to capture transition data. However, the Early Childhood Information System (ECIS) project, launched by OEC and SDE on November 20, 2013, aims to bring together data about children aged birth to five years that is currently housed in different data systems across agencies. Once fully developed, ECIS is expected to capture critical data that will be used by communities and local and regional school districts. This project is funded by $6 million in bonding.

Additionally, there is an effort underway by 53 Discovery Communities to collect transition data. Discovery Communities is a program funded in part by the Graustein Memorial Fund to bring together early childhood stakeholders to improve early childhood care and education by building capacity. These communities conduct community needs assessments, collect data, employ results-based accountability for specific indicators, develop the early childhood blueprint plan, and implement action steps to improve outcomes for young children. Pre-kindergarten transition to kindergarten is often part of these communities' Discovery Birth-8 Plans.

Also, Connecticut currently has a kindergarten assessment that identifies a student's developmental level through a basic checklist. It is not clear how this assessment is currently used, but some districts may be using it to help identify needs of kindergarten students.

8. Are kindergarten teachers trained to communicate with early care providers and with first grade teachers as part of the pre-k through grade three early learning continuum?

According to SDE, at the district level, if kindergarten teachers communicate with early childhood providers, it is typically through a questionnaire the parents receive. The parent gives it to the early childhood provider to complete, and then the parent returns it to the school. Currently, this is done at the district level, not statewide.

SDE describes transition planning between kindergarten teachers and grade one teachers as much more consistent statewide because staff tends to be under the same roof. The same is true between grades one and two, as well as two and three. Most districts have data teams of teachers who look at incoming students in June or late August and examine student data from year to year. There are no mandated practices, however. This is a local decision made by district leaders.

MS:ro