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Press Release

Thursday, March 25, 2010

DOE Press Office
(850) 245-0413

Florida’s VPK Students are Better Prepared for Success in Kindergarten

~ Latest results indicate VPK students score higher than their non-VPK peers in key learning areas ~

TALLAHASSEE – According to the 2008-09 Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) Readiness Rate results announced today by Florida Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith and Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation Director Cynthia R. Lorenzo, more than 120,000 students entered kindergarten better prepared this year as a result of their participation in a VPK program. Based on the results, children who completed VPK last year performed better on key Kindergarten readiness measures than children who did not participate. Additionally, children who only attended a portion of a VPK program outperformed students who had no exposure to the program at all.

“The greater the strength of a child’s learning foundation, the greater his or her ability to succeed in life,” said Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith. “These kindergarten screening results send a clear message that Florida’s VPK program is providing the kind of head start that our youngest students need to ensure an enriching educational experience that pushes their academic achievement to new heights.”

“What these results consistently demonstrate every year is the incredible value that Florida’s Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program brings in providing early learning opportunities for our children to reach their full potential,” said Agency for Workforce Innovation Director Cynthia R. Lorenzo. “The VPK program provides four-year-olds access to quality educational experiences that are proven to prepare them for future success in school and in life.”

All public school kindergarten students are administered a screening within the first 30 days of kindergarten. For the 2009-2010 school year, the statewide kindergarten screening consisted of a subset of the Early Childhood Observation System (ECHOS™) and the first two measures of the Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading (FAIR). To be considered “Ready for Kindergarten,” children should be scoring at the Demonstrating or Emerging/Progressing levels on the ECHOS™ and achieve a Probability of Reading Success score of 67 percent or higher on FAIR.

On the Early Childhood Observation System (ECHOS) portion of the kindergarten screening, which measures readiness in multiple areas, 93 percent of children who completed Florida’s VPK program were assessed as “ready” for kindergarten compared to 87 percent of students who completed only part of the program and 83 percent who did not participate at all. On the Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading (FAIR) portion of the screening, which measures pre-reading skills, 74 percent of children who completed VPK were assessed as “ready” compared to 59 percent of students who completed only part of the program and 55 percent who did not participate.

Florida's VPK program is jointly administered by the Department of Education, the Agency for Workforce Innovation and the Department of Children and Families. The Department of Education oversees standards, curricula and professional development, and accountability; 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; and the Department of Children and Families provides oversight of child care licensing, regulation, Florida's Gold Seal Quality Care program and the issuing of credentials for child care personnel.

For more information, visit the VPK Readiness Rate Fact Sheet (PDF, 43KB).