TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, the Florida Department of Education released the 2017-18 Voluntary Pre-K (VPK) readiness rates, and 42% of children who participated in VPK were not ready for kindergarten. In response, Governor Ron DeSantis called on Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran to create a plan to ensure Florida families receive the great start to an education their children deserve.
Governor Ron DeSantis said, “A 42% failure rate is simply not defendable and certainly not good enough for Florida’s youngest learners. I have asked Commissioner Corcoran to prioritize this issue and direct available funding to make enhancements. Nearly three-quarters of Florida parents rely on VPK programs to lay the academic and social foundation necessary for their children to succeed in kindergarten and beyond.”
Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran said, “We must have a real accountability measure for all our school readiness programs. We are highlighting this data to serve as a rallying cry going forward that we will improve our early learning opportunities for students. Our youngest learners deserve nothing else.”
Early learning policy champions State Representative Erin Grall and State Senator Gayle Harrell also weighed in:
Representative Grall noted, “These results are disheartening for our students and their families. A quality, accountable VPK system contributes to children being ready for kindergarten and ensures our K-3 educators are building upon a strong foundation. I am encouraged by Governor DeSantis and Commissioner Corcoran’s commitment to improvement and their recognition of the need for change. I look forward to working with the Commissioner and many early learning stakeholders over the summer months to improve our early learning system.”
Senator Harrell said, “I appreciate the Governor and Commissioner’s focus on improving every aspect of education, especially for students at this critical time when their readiness greatly improves their likelihood of achievement and opportunity throughout their entire education. We must have one goal and one goal only, and that is to have the best Pre-K in the nation. I am committed to doing my part to help achieve that goal.”
Section 1002.69, Florida Statutes, requires each school district to administer the statewide kindergarten screening to each kindergarten student in the school district within the first 30 school days of each school year. The screening gathers information about each student’s development and readiness for kindergarten based on VPK performance standards. The kindergarten screener results are used to evaluate the performance of VPK providers. Learning gains of the students enrolled in the VPK are also required to be used in determining the quality of the VPK provider. Although providers have been capturing learning gains for five years, learning gains have not been used in readiness rates.
In accordance with state law, beginning with the release of the 2018-19 school year results, VPK readiness rates will be calculated on both learning gains and kindergarten screener results. Providers that do not meet the minimum readiness rate will be subject to the following consequences:
- 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.