Tuesday, May 13, 2014
CONTACT: OFFICE OF EARLY LEARNING
FLORIDA’S FOCUS ON RESULTS AFFIRMS HIGH QUALITY OF VPK PROGRAM
─ Statement on National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) State 2013 Preschool Yearbook ─
Office of Early Learning Executive Director Shan Goff said, “Our state takes early learning seriously and we are proud to be a national leader in prekindergarten access. However, we assert that Florida also leads the way in the ultimate measure of quality that is not included in the NIEER report, which are results.
“Florida focuses on results. We have been measuring the effectiveness of voluntary prekindergarten since 2005, assessing each child’s readiness within the first 30 days of starting kindergarten. Since the VPK program began we have seen year-over-year improvement in kindergarten readiness for children who complete VPK compared to those who do not.
“We go beyond that—monitoring progress during VPK so teachers know how to tailor their approach to helping each child get the most from VPK. Those assessments tie directly to state standards that describe what 4-year-olds should know and be able to do by the end of VPK.
“Since the start of the program, Florida has raised expectations for what children need to know to be ready for kindergarten. We have also raised the bar for providers who offer VPK. Parents can use VPK provider kindergarten readiness rate scores to help choose a program for their child.
“Over the last decade, Florida has moved from being near the bottom of national education rankings to seventh in the country for K-12 student achievement. Our fourth graders scored second in the world in reading. Some might attribute that progress to other factors, but I do not believe it is a coincidence that not quite 10 years ago Florida became one of the first states to begin offering free voluntary prekindergarten to all 4-year-olds—regardless of income.
“The NIEER report implies that funding levels equate to effectiveness. It is difficult, if not impossible, to compare our state’s commitment to funding free prekindergarten for every 4-year-old in the fourth largest state in the nation to a smaller state or district program that serves a portion of its children.
“While funding is important, we believe that how our state invests its resources in education—in preschool and beyond—speaks to true quality. Florida is committed to ensuring that children in the Sunshine State have access to rich, high-quality early educational experiences that will prepare them for success in school, college, careers and life. And we will hold ourselves accountable to do that by measuring the effectiveness of our efforts.”
Part of the Florida Department of Education, the Office of Early Learning administers Florida’s Voluntary Prekindergarten Education, School Readiness and Child Care Resource and Referral programs through 30 local early learning coalitions to ensure Florida’s children are emotionally, physically, socially and intellectually prepared to enter school and ready to learn. More than 350,000 children from birth to school age are enrolled in VPK and school readiness programs in Florida. To learn more, visit www.FloridaEarlyLearning.com or call 850-717-8604.