Benefits of pre-k-3rd grade continuum featured at House committee work session

State officials and local school districts are working hard to “bridge the gap” between early learning and K-12. That was the message Wednesday during a House Education Committee work session on the importance of building a strong learning continuum for children pre-k through third grade.

DEL Director Bette Hyde opened the session by making the case for eliminating—not just reducing—the education achievement gap.

When Washington kindergarten teachers say about half of children enter kindergarten not ready, that doesn’t bode well for further success in the K-12 education system, Hyde said.

“Get rid of an achievement gap by never letting it start,” she said.

Hyde also talked about reducing the “fade-out” effect, which occurs when benefits gained in high-quality early childhood programs weaken over time. We can mitigate “fade-out” by helping ensure children have high-quality early learning opportunities and smooth, intentional transitions into kindergarten through 3rd grade, she said.

Also at the hearing, Annie Pennucci from the Washington State Institute for Public Policy presented preliminary research on how preschool opportunities impact test scores, graduation rates and other factors for low-income students.

DEL Deputy Director Bob Hamilton and Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction WaKIDS Coordinator Dana Ziemba shared an update on the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS), being piloted this school year in 120 classrooms around the state.

A key component of the WaKIDS pilot is creating connections among the child care and preschool programs, parents, kindergarten teachers and school districts. Listen to Katherine Cove, preschool cooperative director, discuss what success can look like from the Toppenish School District.

To view the entire work session, click here.