March 18, 2014 03:27PM
By ANNA MARIA LEMOINE
Sun Staff Writer
STONINGTON — Kindergartners at Deans Mill and West Vine Street elementary schools are proving the district’s move this year to a full-day program was a fruitful one.
The district reported this week a key success of the new program: scores on a literacy skills test went from 65 percent of its kindergarteners meeting goal last year to 90 percent meeting goal this year.
Both schools averaged no less than 90 percent meeting goal.
“Congratulations to the schools and the Board of Education for its work to add full-day kindergarten,” Nikki Gullickson, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, told school board members Thursday night. “We’re excited to see how this improvement carries through to June assessments.”
Stonington is one of numerous districts in the state that launched full-day kindergarten this past fall. Gullickson attributed that move, as well as the district’s purchase of new, comprehensive reading material for the improved scores.
“It’s extremely encouraging,” Superintendent Van W. Riley said of the test results. Of the full-day kindergarten program, which he calls a “necessity,” he said: “It’s a wonderful thing we can give our little kids.”
In his March update on the Stonington Schools website, Riley wrote: “Giving our youngest students this head start on school will result in narrowing the achievement gap and better preparation for future instruction.”
A typical day in the full-day program includes 2.5 hours of language development, an hour of math instruction and exploration, an hour of science/social studies, 45 minutes of art, music or PE, 45 minutes of recess and/or rest time split over two sessions and 30 minutes for lunch.
The total cost of running the kindergarten program is about $435,000, which includes teachers’ salaries.
“We are overjoyed with the results,” West Vine Street Principal Alicia Dawe said. “We’re very proud of our students and the diligence of our staff moving us forward in such a positive direction.”