The Grade for Pre-K

When Florida launched its voter-mandated Voluntary Prekindergarten program in 2005, it promised to help Florida's children develop the skills to become good readers and successful students....
by | May 30, 2007

When Florida launched its voter-mandated Voluntary Prekindergarten program in 2005, it promised to help Florida's children develop the skills to become good readers and successful students. With the release of a new provider rating system, officials can better evaluate whether they are keeping that promise. The new system, which scores each center on a 300-point scale, assesses students' ability to perform a select set of skills, such as recognizing letters, before the 30th day of kindergarten. Teachers send the results to the state, which in turn tracks the results back to a child's provider. The average statewide school score is 239. The Voluntary Prekindergarten program contracts at the local level with pre-K centers that agree to institute high literacy standards, strict accountability, appropriate curricula, substantial instruction periods, manageable class sizes and qualified instructors. While the numbers don't necessary differentiate between how well a child did and how well the school served students, the system does serve parents as a helpful guide to picking a good pre-K center. The state plans to label centers that score in the bottom 15 percent of the rankings two years in a row as "low performers," making them subject to strict improvement plans. To learn more, visit www.vpkflorida.org.