OLYMPIA - On Monday, the state House of Representatives passed Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2586<http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=2586&year=2012>. The bill would provide a structure for families, teachers and early learning providers to work together for each student beginning kindergarten.
That structure - known as the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills - has three parts:
* Family Connection: Before school starts, kindergarten teachers meet with families to talk about each student's strengths and needs and make sure they feel welcome at the elementary school.
* Kindergarten Inventory: In the fall, kindergarten teachers complete a more formal inventory focusing on the development of the whole child, including social and emotional, physical, cognitive and linguistic skills. Teachers have been trained on these tools, and will use the information they gain from the inventory to inform classroom instruction.
* Early Learning Collaboration: Early learning providers and kindergarten teachers will continue meeting throughout the school year to develop new ways to collaborate and share information.
After piloting the program in 2010-11, and moving to voluntary implementation in 2011-12 for state-funded full-day kindergarten classrooms, teachers and school administrators had the opportunity to provide useful feedback on WaKIDS and help refine the system used in practice. Starting in 2012-13, to the extent funds are available, WaKIDS will be used in every state-funded all-day kindergarten classroom in the state of Washington.
"It is our hope that by understanding the abilities of each student, we will be able to tailor the learning environment to match the needs of each child," Dorn said. "As we begin implementing WaKIDS statewide, we need to make sure that the legislature is funding it adequately. Appropriate professional development and technology are crucial to the success of this program."
WaKIDS is a partnership paid for with state, federal and private funding. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and the Department of Early Learning (DEL) are working together to oversee WaKIDS. Private partners include Thrive by Five Washington and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The bill, which passed the state Senate March 2, now goes to Gov. Chris Gregoire for signing.