Burnt Hills – Ballston Lake Teachers Association Full-Day Kindergarten Platform
The Burnt Hills – Ballston Lake Teachers Association supports full-day kindergarten. After much consideration, discussion, and study we have come to this conclusion based on the following tenets:
1) Research shows full-day Kindergarten is good for kids.
There is a tremendous amount of research1 that indicates students in a full day program read better at the start of 1st grade than those in a half-day program2. Additionally at-risk/high needs students "make up" ground much faster3, 4, 5 in a full day program compared to a half day. Those first few years of education are critical to the overall development of student learners. It is this research that forms the majority of our platform. From our perspective, full-day kindergarten is a superior educational model for all students no matter their ability level.
2) Current academic expectations are more rigorous than in the past.
The Common Core Learning Standards adopted in July of 2010 by New York and scheduled for full implementation in the 2013 – 2014 school year have simply changed the rules of the game. It is a challenge to our youngest learners to accomplish the goals required by the Common Core at a developmentally appropriate pace in a 2 1/2 hour day. To learn more about the Math6 and English Language Arts7,8 Common Core Standards please the links below. The National PTA has also recognized the scope of how the kindergarten curriculum has changed and has summarized what a kindergartner needs to know9 (web address below). It is substantial.
3) Professional educators agree: it’s best for kids.
Burnt Hills – Ballston Lake teachers have experienced firsthand the challenge of providing a comprehensive educational program in a 2 1/2 hour half-day kindergarten program. Teachers must cover English/Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Physical Education, Health Education, Library and Computer skills, as well as the structured, purposeful play that is so important to the socialization of our students. It is easy to overlook, but educational studies10 have been done that speak to the importance of learning through play in kindergarten. This type of comprehensive program is difficult in a half-day. As professional educators, we have seen it with our own eyes. BH - BL teachers have produced amazing results educating our youngest learners with only 2 1/2 hours of instructional time. However, a full-day program would provide teachers more time to remediate, enrich, and address the needs of individual learners. Additionally, the vast majority of school districts throughout New York State have adopted a full-day kindergarten program. Burnt Hills – Ballston Lake schools is one of approximately 70 (out of 700 in New York State) that have yet to adopt a full-day program.
4) Short term cost is not a factor.
According to preliminary district estimates, depending on enrollment, full-day kindergarten classes would likely be budget neutral for 2013-14 and beyond. Additionally, the district would be eligible for one-time, state full-day kindergarten conversion incentive aid of at least $600,000 in 2013-14, an amount that could be spread strategically over several following years to offset the cost of full-day kindergarten.
5) There is flexibility in the District’s approach to this personal family decision.
The Teachers Association recognizes that young students and their families may have individual situations that are completely detached from educational research and what may be best for other students. Each family and situation is different. Consequently, we support the one-year transitional approach a District committee is exploring. This option could empower parents to decide when their child goes to the full-day program (September or early November) and allows them to make the decision that is best for their kindergartner.
It is for the reasons stated above the Burnt Hills – Ballston Lake Teachers Association supports the adoption of a comprehensive full-day Kindergarten program for the 2013 – 2014 academic school year and beyond.
1) Kindergarten - Full Versus Half-Day: Information for Parents and Early Childhood Educators
National Association of School Psychologists
5) The Effects of Full Day Versus Half Day
7) English Language Arts Common Core Standards
8) The Common Core State Standards: Caution and Opportunity for Early Childhood Education
National Association for the Education of Young Children
9) Parents’ Guide to Student