TAMPA, Fla. — New state test results show nearly half of pre-school kids in Florida are considered “not ready” for kindergarten and the VPK’s are the ones left to suffer the consequences.
For nearly a decade, Elsa Cruz has prepared kids for kindergarten.
"It is a privilege to be able to teach VPK and we hold those standards high,” she said.
She says they are mandated by the state to assess students twice a year on things like mathematics, language skills and vocabulary.
According to new numbers from the state, 45% of children were considered “not ready” for kindergarten after the 2016-17 school year. Because of that, 42% of VPK's were at probation level.
"I’m almost speechless I don’t even know what to say, I don’t know why it’s so high!” exclaimed Cruz. "If the school is really trying truly to help a child why would they be punished?"
She believes it’s because the evaluations that are used by the state to determine if a child is ready for kindergarten are taken after summer.
"Three months is a long three months,” said Cruz.
Governor Ron Desantis agrees and announced Wednesday the "failure rate isn’t dependable.”
Thursday, he ordered the Department of Education to not only count those VPK assessments but also the learning gains that are taken through the year to measure growth. Cruz says that decision makes a lot of sense.
"The final assessments should be done in the center or school that they are coming from before they enter kindergarten,” she said.
She also believes this could help weed out the VPK's that are not holding up the standards required of them.
Accoring to WPTV, DeSantis says providers will faces the following consequences if they don't meet the minimum readiness rate:
- Placement of the provider on probation;
- Implementation of an improvement plan approved by the early learning coalition or school district including the use of an Office of Early Learning (OEL)-approved curriculum or a staff development plan;
- Annual submission of an application to OEL for approval for a good cause exemption for providers not meeting the minimum readiness rate for three consecutive years;
- Continued probation until the provider meets the minimum readiness rate; and
- Ineligibility to offer the VPK program if on probation for three or more years without a good cause exemption.
Cruz says there are ways parents can sharpen their child’s learning skills during the summer — sounding out words, counting and spelling at the grocery store are good examples.