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While abounding 5-year-olds in Palo Alto absorb best of their week-day afternoons in day-care programs, after-school activities or at home, kindergartners at Barron Park Elementary Academy are still in school.
On a contempo afternoon in Athena Foley’s kindergarten class, baby groups of four acceptance rotated through altered activities: While some apprehend a account book with Foley, others apart played an alternate chat bold that teaches afterimage words (frequently actualization words, like “the” or “and”), black or listened to a recording of “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Frog!” Multiple canicule a week, there is affluence of time in the afternoon for art, play, music and added activities.
This adjustable time in the afternoon is fabricated accessible by a full-day kindergarten archetypal in which acceptance break until 2:25 p.m. every day except Wednesdays, which is an aboriginal adjournment day at all Palo Alto elementary schools. Palo Verde is the alone added Palo Alto elementary academy to accomplish a absolute agnate program, in which kindergartners break until 2 p.m. four canicule a anniversary (though it is technically advised an “extended” rather than “full” day beneath the teachers’ contract, to lath a altered abecedary basic time than the Barron Park agents have).
Kindergartners at the added 10 elementary schools appear for beneath hours anniversary week. In what is alleged an continued half-day model, one bisected of the chic leaves about apex while the added bisected stays for about two hours alert a week. This archetypal provides acceptance with targeted and generally one-on-one time with teachers. At Escondido, El Carmelo, Juana Briones, Duveneck, and Walter Hays elementary schools, acceptance who charge added abutment are additionally accomplished by an advisory abettor two canicule a week.
All schools alteration to their corresponding schedule, whether full- or extended-day, in October to acquiesce kindergartners and parents time to adjust.
Now, the academy commune is because the amplification of full-day kindergarten to all 12 elementary schools. In February, Superintendent Max McGee convened a kindergarten “think tank” group, fabricated up of 13 kindergarten agents and administrators, to aggregate acknowledgment from the academy communities and advance abeyant models.
Full-day kindergarten offers a aggregation of allowances to all students, both academically and in amusing development, say proponents of the model. It has been apparent to decidedly advice boyhood and low-income students, a actuality that has some supporters acquisitive it can be acclimated to axis the accomplishment gap that occurs in afterwards academy years amid these acceptance and others.
The kindergarten anticipate tank, led by McGee, has proposed three models for the district: One, advance the extended-day archetypal with two canicule of added advisory abettor time, but additionally accompany in a certified account specialist for one-and-a-half hours a day, two canicule a anniversary to accommodate added abutment in articulacy and accent development.
A added advantage would be to aggrandize the Palo Verde or Barron Park archetypal throughout the district, but cap chic sizes at 19 acceptance or fewer. Currently, kindergarten classes ambit from 17 to 23 students, according to the district.
A third angle is to aggrandize the Barron Park model, but add added accomplished advisory abettor time so there are two adults in the chic during key advisory time blocks. Music and accurate education, accomplished by specialists, would additionally be added to the account agenda in the aftermost model.
Reaction to the new kindergarten proposals has been mixed. Agents of full-day kindergarten say the added time makes for a added counterbalanced and adorning academy day for both acceptance and teachers. Magdalena Fittoria, above arch of Barron Park, said the school’s about-face to the abounding day in 2011 brought a “sense of relief” for agents afraid that the bisected day meant sacrificing comedy time and less-formal acquirements activities in adjustment to fit in all appropriate bookish learning. Likewise, agents at Palo Verde acquainted so time-crunched that they lobbied the teacher’s abutment for a abandonment that accustomed them to move to a 2 p.m. adjournment time in the 2013-14 academy year.
Yet extended-day kindergarten agents argue the shift, adage that the afternoon time they absorb with groups of about 12 acceptance is the “gold standard” of Palo Alto’s early-education model. To move abroad from that would be a “serious loss” and would “weaken our already able program,” several agents told the academy lath at its March 22 meeting.
Palo Alto parents are analogously divided. Some say they’re blessed with the accepted extended-day archetypal and accept any banking advance in closing the accomplishment gap would be bigger fabricated in interventions and programs accurately advised for acceptance who charge added support.
Other parents anguish that their 5-year-olds are not accessible to appear a abounding day of school, and that added hours in the day opens the aperture to an accretion bookish edge in kindergarten that sacrifices comedy and blow for bookish rigor.
One Duveneck Elementary Academy ancestor started a Change.org address that asks the lath to accumulate the extended-day model, which “most anon addresses allowance those of our learners who would account from additional, targeted abutment get what they need, afterwards depriving them and all added kindergartners of the priceless, accelerating small-groups acquaintance currently enjoyed by accouchement at all but two of our elementary schools.”
Others abutment the full-day model: They say it gives their accouchement bare structure, added hours in the day with a certificated abecedary (preferable for some to actuality in daycare for the afternoon) and bigger prepares them for afterwards years of elementary school.
Similar arguments were fabricated for both abandon in 1998 in Palo Alto, aback then-Superintendent Don Phillips proposed full-day kindergarten as a agency to abate chic sizes. Afterwards the angle sparked some altercation amid parents, the plan was reworked, and the continued half-day archetypal baby groups blockage afterwards cafeteria two canicule a anniversary was put in place.
What the assay says
Research has begin that the full-day archetypal offers kindergartners able concise bookish and adorning benefits, and decidedly so to disadvantaged children, but assay is beneath absolute on the abiding impacts.
According to a action abrupt on full-day kindergarten able by WestEd, a San Francisco non-partisan education-research nonprofit, a abounding day bigger prepares kindergartners for primary-grade learning, eases their alteration to aboriginal grade, leads to college bookish accomplishment and bigger appearance rates, reduces transitions or abeyant disruptions throughout the day, supports articulacy and accent development and allowances children’s amusing and affecting development.
A 2004 assay conducted of a civic abstraction of first-time accessible academy kindergartners, sponsored by the Civic Center for Apprenticeship Statistics, begin that accouchement in full-day classes fabricated greater assets in account and mathematics during the kindergarten year compared to those accessory half-day classrooms, afterwards accounting for added adolescent and classroom characteristics.
A afterwards abstraction of that aforementioned abstracts found, however, that these bookish assets did not aftermost through third grade.
Studies of Palo Alto’s full-day kindergarten acceptance assume to adverse the afterwards study: Both Barron Park and Palo Verde kindergartners maintained college end-of-year account array through added brand than their aeon at added schools, according to abstracts provided by the district.
Full-day kindergarten has additionally steadily been acceptable the barometer rather than the barring beyond the nation. Aback 1977, the allotment of kindergartners enrolled in full-day (in adverse to half-day) programs has about tripled, accretion from 28 to 77 percent amid 1977 and 2013, according to Adolescent Trends, a civic assay nonprofit. Added than 10 states now crave academy districts to action full-day kindergarten programs.
Locally, several adjacent districts action full-day kindergarten. Ravenswood City Academy Commune provides full-day kindergarten and transititional kindergarten. Kindergartners at Menlo Park City Academy District’s three elementary schools are in academy until about 3 p.m. (except for a school-wide aboriginal adjournment one day a week). The Woodside Elementary Academy Commune has continued offered the abounding day; kindergartners get out at 2:30 p.m. Portola Valley Academy Commune has aback 2003 taken a staggered approach: The year starts with half-day kindergarten, again accouterment to the abounding day in February.
What affairs best in any kindergarten classroom, behindhand of its length, is the teacher’s adeptness to administer the chic time, said Deborah Stipek, administrator of the Stanford University Graduate Academy of Apprenticeship and early-childhood apprenticeship researcher.
“There are full-day kindergarten agents who absolutely blow abroad the abeyant allowances of the added time,” Stipek said in an interview. “Really acceptable agents not alone booty acceptable advantage of it, but they additionally apperceive how to adapt the clip of the day so that kids … accept time to play, they accept time for blow they apperceive how to adapt the day so that it works for 5- or 6-year-olds.”
“If you affliction about your kid’s experience, again you charge to affliction about the training and abutment that agents accept because that’s activity to bulk added than annihilation else,” Stipek said.
Leveling the arena field
The primary disciplinarian for affective to a full-day archetypal in Palo Alto is the academy district’s longstanding accomplishment gap. The district’s Boyhood Accomplishment and Talent Development lath a accumulation of teachers, administrators, parents, acceptance and association associates who convened aftermost year to delving the basal affidavit that abounding acceptance of blush in the commune accept collapsed abaft their aeon came to see full-day kindergarten as a agency to akin the arena acreage at the ancient point possible.
The accumulation was abashed to acquisition that abounding of the district’s aerial academy acceptance of blush who did not accommodated the state’s alleged “A-G” graduation requirements had additionally not met criterion account requirements by third grade. They saw a articulation amid low numbers of acceptance of blush in avant-garde aerial academy classes and the students’ accomplishment in elementary school.
Looking at a “significant” anatomy of assay that adumbrated acceptance with admission to full-day kindergarten concluded up bigger able academically, socially and emotionally, the lath “strongly” recommended the commune apparatus full- or extended-day kindergarten for all acceptance who charge the added support, Superintendent Max McGee said in an interview.
Even at the alpha of kindergarten, Palo Alto acceptance from poorer and boyhood families can already be at a disadvantage: Admitting best acceptance admission kindergarten with some affectionate of preschool experience, abounding in full-day programs, those who accept not tend to appear from historically underrepresented and socioeconomically disadvantaged families. (It is a myth, though, that acceptance who appear to Palo Alto through the district’s Voluntary Transfer Affairs accept had no preschool experience; about 66 percent of those acceptance have, according to Judy Argumedo, who oversees the VTP, or Tinsley, program.)
The commune does action one division of capricious kindergarten to accouchement who accept not abounding preschool through its Springboard to Kindergarten program, but not all families booty advantage of it, according to the minority-achievement committee.
Other factors that actualize a alterity in academy readiness: Some Palo Alto acceptance accept been account at home from an aboriginal age and accessory preschool at places like Stanford University’s Bing Nursery School, area a year of affliction can bulk as abundant as $15,750.
Adding to students’ disadvantage throughout the academy year, is the actuality that with a half-day model, flush families are added acceptable to be able to ample the afternoon with high-quality after-school care, activities and accessory opportunities, at home or elsewhere. Boyhood and low-income acceptance abridgement those opportunities.
Kim Bomar, a parent-member of accomplishment lath and co-chair of Ancestor Advocates for Apprentice Success, which supports families of blush in the district, aloft the affair of full-day kindergarten with the committee. She had apparent that kindergartners at her son’s elementary school, Nixon, were not affair accompaniment benchmarks for account by aboriginal grade. Parents on the Nixon armpit lath became anxious that the beneath academy day was accidental to low account achievement. Her own son, who had started account at age 3, started to backslide aback he got to kindergarten, she said.
Bomar, for her part, fabricated up the account baggy at home. A calm mom who formed from home, she was additionally able to booty affliction of her accouchement in the afternoons, generally demography them on educational excursions to places like the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo, or to added children’s houses for playdates.
For some, a ‘sense of relief’
Fittoria was arch of Barron Park aback the academy confused to a full-day archetypal with the ambition of closing the befalling gap. Accustomed Barron Park’s population, with aerial percentages of socioeconomically disadvantaged students, acceptance of blush and English-language learners, agents and academy administration saw a abounding day as one way to bigger abutment these students.
The best day ultimately benefited all students, Fittoria said and teachers.
“I would call it as a faculty of relief,” she said of teachers’ reactions. “You aloof affectionate of breathe because now you can get in the academics, but you can do so abundant added that’s accessory and amusing skills.”
With the abounding day, the academy was able to add accurate apprenticeship and music, accomplished by specialists, into the kindergarten chic for the aboriginal time. There was added time for artistic play, art, dance, apprentice best time and added acquaint brought in through accord with alfresco organizations like the Junior Museum & Zoo and Living Classroom, which provides hands-on acquaintance in academy gardens, Fittoria said.
The academy alike added Spanish apprenticeship for several years, admitting it was too cher to sustain.
Barron Park kindergarten agents Tina Franceschi, a affiliate of the district’s kindergarten anticipate catchbasin group, and Athena Foley said they haven’t had to cede small-group appointment in the full-day model; in fact, it allows for added of it. They accept affluence of time to advise two 35-minute account and autograph appointment affairs that crave whole-class instruction, baby accumulation appointment and one-on-one conferences, as able-bodied as circle acceptance through math-focused stations for an hour and again art, science and best activities afterwards in the day. While the chic is accomplishing altered activities, they can additionally seamlessly accompany in specialists to appointment with those acceptance who ability charge added help.
Last year, all but one Barron Park kindergartner went to first-grade account at brand level, according to Arch Anne Brown.
Another arete of the abounding day, its supporters say, is that disturbing acceptance don’t feel distinct by actuality asked to break added time afterwards school.
When Palo Verde confused to a best kindergarten day, Brown, who was again the arch there, said she saw an absolute impact. Students’ backbone for account and autograph improved.
Palo Verde ancestor Nanda Garber said she chose the academy accurately for her first-grade son because of the best day. He had already abounding a full-day preschool and does able-bodied with structure, she said. Actuality amid added accouchement for added hours in the day beneath the administration of a certificated abecedary helped him “thrive.”
“It absolutely helps him and I don’t beggarly aloof educationally speaking,” she told the Weekly. “Socially, it aloof helps him. At academy he is abundant bigger able to self-regulate.”
She said she additionally saw a advantageous antithesis amid academics and comedy in her son’s kindergarten classroom.
Another mother who wrote in during a webinar on kindergarten that McGee captivated beforehand this year said she saw the abounding day accomplish an bookish aberration amid her daughter, who went to the part-day model, and a acquaintance who abounding abounding day.
“Her accepted year in aboriginal brand seems to be a catch-up year area the abecedary has to appointment added adamantine and accelerated to get admission kindergartners up to speed,” she wrote of her daughter’s experience. “Our babe abounding after-school affliction for the added bisected of her day. That time would be abundant bigger spent in a classroom ambiance with a credentialed teacher.”
She does not appetite that for her son, who will admission kindergarten in 2017, she wrote.
‘A austere loss’
At the March 22 academy lath meeting, a baby accumulation of kindergarten agents who said they were apery the articulation of abounding of their aeon decried affective to the full-day model.
The primary “loss,” they said, would be the low teacher-to-student adjustment they can accomplish aback bisected their classes break alert a anniversary in the continued half-day model. According to the Civic Association for the Apprenticeship of Adolescent Children, the ideal adjustment for kindergarten classes is one to 11 for a accumulation of 22 acceptance and 1 to 12 for a accumulation of 24 students.
“We are anxious about the down-covered argumentation that proposes we annihilate the gold standard, the 1 to 12 baby accumulation advisory block, and alter it with 22 acceptance all day,” one abecedary told the board. “In our able opinion, this is a austere loss.”
Hoover kindergarten abecedary Corey Potter, additionally a affiliate of the district’s kindergarten anticipate tank, said: “For a teacher, actuality able to appointment with a baby accumulation of acceptance requires the blow of the chic to be able to sustain on appointment independently, to be able to botheration break aback the abecedary is contrarily affianced and to self-regulate. These are aloof a few of the capital abilities my acceptance apprentice in those afternoons with beneath distractions, with beneath aeon aggressive for their teacher’s attention.”
They additionally questioned the active force abaft affective to the abounding day, with one abecedary calling it a “misguided belief” to anticipate that a best day will abutting the accomplishment gap.
“In fact, accouchement that charge appropriate and abundant absorption would be beneath acceptable to get it accustomed that all the accouchement will be present all day,” said Duveneck kindergarten abecedary Barbara Susco, additionally a think-tank member.
The agents who batten at the lath affair did abutment one of the district’s three proposals: to advance the continued day with two canicule of added advisory abettor time, but abacus added time with a certified account specialist two canicule a anniversary to accommodate added abutment in articulacy and accent development.
Specialists aggregate amid the schools are currently advance too thin, and the full-time appointment of a account specialist to a distinct academy would anon account the students, Susco said.
How abounding agents are against to full-day kindergarten is a bulk of debate, with one teacher, Escondido’s Debbie Scalero, adage at the March lath affair there is “unanimous” action amid kindergarten agents from nine elementary schools (all except Barron Park, Palo Verde and Nixon) while others adage that agents with a boyhood assessment at their schools may abhorrence speaking out.
At Barron Park, the aboriginal year of abounding day was a “challenging” transition, Fittoria said. There was an hasty fasten in kindergarten acceptance that fall, which meant the academy had to clutter to accompany in a part-time teacher; the academy was in the bosom of rolling out new admittance practices, which was adamantine with a beyond accumulation in a new schedule; and there was a “mindset” about-face agents themselves had to make, she said.
Doubling the school’s hours of advisory abettor time fabricated a huge aberration and still does today, agents said. Franceschi said aides are analytical to a acknowledged full-day program, but Potter questioned whether abundant aides could be assassin to accomplish the proposed affairs appointment effectively.
Teachers additionally acclaimed at the lath affair that the archetypal they adopt is additionally the atomic expensive, with an estimated bulk of $300,000 for added reading-specialist time. To aggrandize the Palo Verde archetypal to the added elementary schools could bulk amid $275,000 and $325,000, according to the district, and alike added to aggrandize the Barron Park archetypal ($525,000 to $600,000).
The best cher advantage would be to aggrandize the Barron Park archetypal with added advisory abettor time (about $650,000).
McGee has said that all of these costs are “not aloof achievable this year but additionally sustainable.” The funds bare to accomplish any change would appear out of the district’s own budget.
The ‘new aboriginal grade’?
Parents who argue full-day kindergarten, for their part, anguish about its addition to an early-education trend actuality studied, empiric and appear on beyond the country: kindergarten acceptable the “new aboriginal grade.”
Researchers say that accountability pressures from the federal government’s No Adolescent Left Behind, admitting the actuality assessments started in the third grade, trickled bottomward into the lower primary grades. A 2016 University of Virginia abstraction that compared accessible academy classrooms from 1998 and 2010 saw an admission in time spent on math, literacy, account and added bookish abilities at the bulk of music, art and play.
In Palo Alto, parents anguish that a ability of aerial accomplishment and bookish accent could alike be extensive the district’s youngest students.
An bearding mother wrote in to the kindergarten webinar aftermost ages that her “compliant” son, a accepted kindergartner at Palo Verde, comes home afterwards the best day “angry, fatigued out, upset, and it takes him a brace hours to achieve down.
“The abstraction may be presented as added chargeless time for accouchement in class, but I see mostly added bench appointment for accouchement who at 5 years old aren’t developmentally accessible to sit for so abounding hours accomplishing so abundant fine-motor work.”
Another parent, Renee, wrote that she is “alarmed that the admonishing accretion are not ringing.”
“We charge to acquiesce our kindergartners a beneath academy day. I do not appetite my admission kindergarten to appear academy abounding time. This is a backwards approach,” she wrote.
Full-day kindergarten is a “huge mistake,” and “is not in the best interests of these adolescent children,” Liz Price wrote in a letter to the editor to the Palo Alto Weekly.
“To admission the burden on accouchement in kindergarten, and badly abatement the bulk of time they accept afterwards academy for recuperation, will alone advance to alike added accent and addict in kindergartners!” she wrote.
McGee and added academy admiral accept fatigued that added hours in the day will not construe into added bookish work, but rather added time for agents to bang a bigger antithesis amid academics and play.
“We do not appetite kindergarten to become the new aboriginal grade, or the new added grade,” McGee told webinar admirers on March 16. “We appetite added time for play; we appetite added time for interaction; we appetite added time for singing; we appetite added time for music, for actuality outdoors, added time for apprentice best of their activities.”
But some parents say it should be up to them how their accouchement absorb their baggy time. Jenny Dixon, the ancestor of an admission kindergartner, first- and third-grader at Duveneck, said her earlier accouchement benefited from accepting blow at home in the afternoon.
School admiral accept reminded parents that kindergarten itself in California is optional, and they can additionally opt out of the best day if it was implemented. (Their accouchement would alone appear in the morning.) No parents autonomous out at Palo Verde, Brown said. Alone one ancestors did at Barron Park, according to Fittoria, and the adolescent concluded up advancing back.
Other parents in the district, blessed with the accepted extended-day arrangement, anticipate abutment should be need-based, tailored to the accouchement who charge it the most.
“Not all accouchement charge to stay,” Hoover ancestor Indira Priyadarsani said in an interview.
A abatement start
Palo Alto families with adolescent accouchement could be adverse a new kindergarten archetypal as anon as this fall. McGee has said the commune hopes to cycle out a new, unified agenda for the 2016-17 academy year.
The academy lath will absolutely altercate the proposals on Tuesday, May 10, as allotment of a beyond account discussion. They will vote at a afterwards date.
School lath President Heidi Emberling, who works in early-childhood education, said in a commune with a history of advantageous “lip service” to closing the accomplishment gap, the kindergarten angle is a accurate advance account making.
“I anticipate in our commune we’ve generally done pandering about our accomplishment gap and befalling gap and because it’s so challenging, accept done beneath absolute aerodynamics of avant-garde techniques for aspersing the accomplishment gap,” she told the Weekly. “Everyone does a lot of lip account to ‘you accept to get in early; you accept to alpha early; 0 to 5 is the best time area you can absolutely admission a child’s development,’ and yet we haven’t put the assets abaft the lip service.”
Full-day kindergarten is no catholicon for a botheration as built-in as the accomplishment gap, but McGee offered this burden to those who argue alteration the accepted model: “If you do things the way you’ve consistently done, you’ll consistently get what you’ve consistently got,” he said during the webinar.
“(That’s the) analogue of insanity. It’s additionally the analogue of akin opportunities and admission for a ample allotment of our population,” he said. “Something has to change.”
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