The percentage of children ready for kindergarten after attending Washington's subsidized preschool program exceeded the state average.
When four-year-olds in the state’s low-income preschool program were evaluated in the fall of 2014, only 30 percent had early literacy skills (like knowing the alphabet) showing they were ready for kindergarten.
By the end of their preschool year, 88 percent had those skills, according to a new report from the state’s Department of Early Learning.
The rate for about three-quarters of the state’s incoming kindergartners — the ones who are evaluated using the state’s WaKIDS assessment last fall — was 81 percent.
Kids in the state preschool program made even greater strides in developing social and emotional skills. Only 39 percent were deemed ready in that area when they started preschool in the fall. By the spring, 92 percent had those skills, compared with the WaKIDS average of 73 percent .
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The state-preschool children also showed similar improvement in language, cognitive and physical skills.
Kids generally are least prepared in math when they start school and just 9 percent of the ones in the state’s preschool program could do things like connect numerals with the quantities they represent when they started preschool.
But by the end of the year, 65 percent were considered ready for kindergarten-level math, about 4 percentage points higher than the state WaKIDS average.
The report looks at six measures of kindergarten readiness for about 5,200 children who were enrolled in the state preschool program in the 2014-15 school year and were old enough for kindergarten last fall. Of those kids, 129 had started the previous year as three-year-olds and the readiness rates for that group were even higher.
About 11,000 kids total were enrolled in the state’s preschool program at some point during the 2014-2015 school year and almost 3,000 more were on the waiting list last March. The average cost per child last year was $8,232, according to the report.
Total enrollment is expected to double by 2020, when all eligible parents will be guaranteed seats for their children.
Many studies of government preschool programs have found that initial gains fade out by around third grade.
But a 2014 study of Washington’s preschool program by the Legislature’s research arm found that children’s boosts in reading and math persisted through fifth grade.