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Number of districts offering 4K grows 70% in seven years

27 districts add 4K in 2007-08 school year

WEAC Resolution B-9
Early Childhood Education

WEAC supports early childhood education programs in Wisconsin public schools for children from birth through age 8. The Council believes that such programs should be held in facilities that are appropriate for children’s developmental needs and, if funded by public dollars, staffed by appropriately licensed public school teachers. These early childhood education programs should include a full continuum of services for parents/guardians and children, including child-care, child development, developmentally appropriate and diversity-based curricula, and special education. Early childhood programs must also address the physical, mental, and emotional health of children, and the social and nutritional needs of children.

Two-thirds of Wisconsin's 426 school districts offer 4-year-old kindergarten (4K), State Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster announced Wednesday (December 5, 2007).

Wisconsin has 27,759 students enrolled in 4K this year. The number of districts offering 4K grew 70% over the past seven years. Twenty-seven Wisconsin districts added 4K this year.

"The benefits of 4-year-old kindergarten are indisputable," Burmaster said. "School districts, parents, and communities throughout the state have embraced 4K to provide early education for their children."

A growing trend in 4K is community approaches. Seven of the state's new 4K districts are collaborating with child care or Head Start centers to provide services to 4-year-olds and their families.

"While parents are the first and the most important teachers of their children, early learning experiences through quality 4K programs are among the best steps schools and communities can take in the formal education of our children," Burmaster said.

She cited a growing body of research that shows quality early childhood education provides educational and economic benefits for all children regardless of family income.

"Early childhood programs prepare youngsters to learn and to successfully transition into school by bridging the effects of poverty, allowing children from economically disadvantaged families to gain an equal footing with their peers. Reports show that young children attending quality early education programs do better in school, and they have fewer referrals for special education. Their retention rates are lower, and they are more likely to graduate from high school. Early childhood education reduces remediation and school costs. High-quality early learning programs raise achievement for all students and help us close the achievement gap, essentially halting the gap before it begins," she said.

Additional information, including a list of districts providing 4K in the 2007-08 school year, is available in this DPI news release .

Posted December 5, 2007

Education News