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PRESS RELEASE

May 15, 2007

Tom Butler
(850) 245-0413

Preliminary Data Suggests VPK is Better Preparing Children for Kindergarten
Preliminary 2005-2006 Kindergarten Readiness Rates for individual VPK providers released and available online

TALLAHASSEE – Preliminary data released today at the State Board of Education meeting in Orlando revealed that children who participated in the state’s Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) Education program performed better on the Florida Kindergarten Readiness Screener (FLKRS) – a screening instrument given to children within the first 30 days of kindergarten – than children who did not participate in the program. Further, children who attended the VPK program less than 85 percent of the time still scored higher on the FLKRS screening measures than children who had no exposure to the program.

The FLKRS includes selected measures from the Early Childhood Observation System™ (ECHOS™) and the first two measures of the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills™ (DIBELS™) – those measuring Letter Naming Fluency and Initial Sound Fluency. Children attending the full VPK program, or even a portion of a program, generally outperformed those who did not on each of these three measures.

"VPK is an excellent opportunity for children to build the skills they need to read and experience academic success down the road," said Education Commissioner Blomberg. "These results confirm what we have believed all along – the more time children spend in a quality VPK program, the better prepared they are for kindergarten. We must continue to work toward increasing participation in Florida’s VPK program and boosting attendance levels so that all of Florida’s children enter kindergarten ready-to-learn."

ECHOS™ – Fifty-two percent of VPK completers (those attending a minimum of 85 percent of the program) were "Consistently Demonstrating" what he or she should know and be able to do at the beginning of kindergarten. Only 40 percent of non-VPK children were "Consistently Demonstrating" and 45 percent of children with some VPK were "Consistently Demonstrating."

DIBELS™: Letter Naming Fluency – Letter Naming Fluency measures a student's proficiency in naming uppercase and lowercase letters. Eighty-two percent of VPK completers were "Above Average" or "Low Risk," which means the student was performing at or above grade level in this measure. Sixty-five percent of non-VPK children were "Above Average" or "Low Risk" and 71 percent of children with some VPK were "Above Average" or "Low Risk."

DIBELS™: Initial Sound Fluency – Initial Sound Fluency measures a student's ability to recognize the beginning sound(s) in a spoken word. Seventy percent of VPK completers were "Above Average" or "Low Risk;" whereas, 62 percent of non-VPK children fell into this same category. Sixty-four percent of children with some VPK were "Above Average" or "Low Risk."

"The three assessments clearly demonstrate that children who completed or participated in VPK scored higher than those who did not. These results indicate that the hard work of our partners and early learning coalitions is paying off and that this program makes a significant difference in terms of whether a child will be prepared for school," said Agency for Workforce Innovation Director Monesia Brown. "These are the types of results the people of Florida asked for and I am proud to report that we are delivering on our promise."

Also released today were preliminary 2005-2006 VPK Provider Kindergarten Readiness Rates, which measure how well a private or public VPK provider prepared four-year-olds for kindergarten. To make this information easily accessible to parents, Department of Education (DOE), the Agency for Workforce Innovation (AWI) and the Department of Children and Families (DCF) worked collaboratively to develop a searchable, online database with readiness rate reports for individual VPK providers available at https://vpk.fldoe.org..

VPK Provider Kindergarten Readiness Rates include only the results of children who participated in VPK during 2005-2006. The VPK Provider Kindergarten Readiness Rate is based on the scores of children who attended VPK and who are screened within the first 30 days of kindergarten. The screening is administered by district public schools to all public school kindergarten children. Children who participated in VPK and attended a non-public school for kindergarten were also provided the opportunity to participate in the screening.

The rates are based on children’s performance on the three measures of FLKRS listed above. To calculate the rate, each part of the screening tool is assigned a percentage based on the number of children ready. For example, if eight out of 10 children are ready for kindergarten on the ECHOS™, the VPK provider would receive 80 percent. The sum of all three screening results is totaled to establish the readiness rate of the VPK provider. The highest rate a provider could receive is 300 (100 percent for each of the three screening tools).

Not all providers received readiness rates. Readiness rates were only calculated for providers with a minimum of four children who were enrolled in the VPK program for 85 percent or more of the total instructional hours and participated in each of the three kindergarten screening measures.

In preparation for the calculation of the rates, the DOE and AWI worked together to give VPK providers an opportunity to verify their enrollment information and make any changes via the online database. Florida’s 31 early learning coalitions reviewed provider changes for accuracy and requested supporting documentation as needed.

A dispute/appeals process is available to providers who believe their rate is not accurate. Providers disputing/appealing their readiness rate must submit the appropriate documentation and forms to the DOE within the next 14 days. After the conclusion of the dispute/appeals process, the State Board of Education in June will set the minimum readiness rate that, if achieved by a provider, demonstrates the provider’s satisfactory delivery of the VPK program. The State Board will also identify low-performing providers that will be required to submit an improvement plan targeting areas for change including proposed actions or existing actions taken. VPK providers identified as low performing for two consecutive years will be removed from the state-approved provider list.

Florida’s VPK program is jointly administered by the Agency for Workforce Innovation, the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Education. The Department of Children and Families provides oversight of child care licensing, regulation and provider training; the Department of Education oversees standards, curricula and professional development; and the Agency for Workforce Innovation administers the day-to-day operations of the program including policy development, financial management and oversight of the 31 Early Learning Coalitions.

For more information on VPK Provider Kindergarten Readiness Rates, visit https://vpk.fldoe.org.