Advertisement
  1. Gradebook

Gov. Ron DeSantis: Too many Florida kids not ready for kindergarten

More accountability measures are planned after a finding that 42 percent of children in Florida’s Voluntary Prekindergarten program are not prepared to advance.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said nearly 75 percent of Florida parents rely on the state's Voluntary Prekindergarten program, and vowed to improve it. [Times (2004)]
Gov. Ron DeSantis said nearly 75 percent of Florida parents rely on the state's Voluntary Prekindergarten program, and vowed to improve it. [Times (2004)]
Published May 16

Florida officials on Wednesday lamented a newly released figure showing that 42 percent of children in the state’s Voluntary Prekindergarten program were not ready for kindergarten last year, and said they planned to address the issue with more accountability measures.

In an early evening statement, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he has asked education commissioner Richard Corcoran to create a plan for improving that number “and direct available funding to make enhancements.” He said nearly 75 percent of Florida parents rely on the program, commonly known as VPK, “to lay the academic and social foundation necessary for their children to succeed in kindergarten and beyond.”

RELATED: Prekindergarten teachers ask Florida lawmakers to count them, too

“A 42% failure rate is simply not defendable and certainly not good enough for Florida’s youngest learners,” DeSantis said.

Corcoran said in a statement: “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.”

ALSO READ: Not a Florida classroom teacher? No Best and Brightest for you.

A news release by the Department of Education outlined one way state leaders intend to tighten oversight of preschools that operate under the Voluntery Prekindergarten program, and it’s already in state law. Beginning in the coming year, the state will start to calculate each preschool’s kindergarten readiness rate using students’ learning gains while in preschool as well as the results from a screening each student receives after entering a public-school kindergarten.

Preschools that don’t meet a minimum readiness rate will face consequences including probation, intervention by local education officials, or being declared ineligible to participate in the Voluntary Prekindergarten program if a school is on probation for three or more years.

Contact Thomas C. Tobin at tobin@tampabay.com. Follow @ThomasCTobin.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins, shown at Mort Elementary School in 2016, is retiring effective June 30. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
    Jeff Eakins, the current superintendent, is retiring, effective June 30.
  2. Hillsborough county parents can check the district's website for their child's bus route and their school's bus schedule. Visit sdhc.k12.fl.us, click the link under "Preparing for Back to School," then find the links for "Bus Schedule" and "Bus Availability." For more information, call (813) 982-5500. [SKIP O'ROURKE  |   Times]
    Our running list of the candidates to replace superintendent Jeff Eakins includes top educators with a wide range of experience.
  3. Tricia McManus, an assistant superintendent for the Hillsborough County School District, rolled out the district's new Achievement Zone plan for struggling schools at a community meeting in 2018. The word "zone" was removed early on. [MARLENE SOKOL | Times]
    Tricia McManus will become a deputy superintendent in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
  4. A vigil at Pine Trails Park in Parkland for victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Credit: Al Diaz, Miami Herald
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  5. Some schools have already closed for the holidays, but everyone should be off by the end of the day Dec. 20. [Times (2015)]
    Some schools are closing for the holidays this week; others won’t be done for a few days. Then it’s lights out until early January.
  6. This Feb. 19 photo shows a makeshift memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and faculty were killed in a mass shooting in Parkland. [AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File]
    The grand jury said districts are creating “unnecessary chaos” and have become “experts at data manipulation.”
  7. Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis with Hillsborough Superintendent Jeff Eakins and Sheriff Chad Chronister speaking at Hillsborough High School on Thursday, Dec. 12. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times staff]
    If students feel supported, educators say, schools will be safer and more productive
  8. Rep. Ben Diamond, D-St. Petersburg, presents his bill on civics education to the House PreK-12 Innovation subcommittee on Dec. 11, 2019. The legislation received unanimous bipartisan support. [The Florida Channel]
    ‘Democracy is not a spectator sport,’ sponsor Rep. Ben Diamond reminds colleagues.
  9. Haley Manigold, second from left, and Armwood High School classmates Maria Medina and Madison Harvey take a photo with Sen. Tom Lee, who is sponsoring their legislation, and teacher Tony Pirotta.  They presented their bill in the Senate Education Committee on Dec. 9, 2019. [EMILY L. MAHONEY  |  Times Staff]
    Armwood High senior Haley Manigold discusses her effort to convince lawmakers to adopt testing legislation.
  10. Florida Senate President Bill Galvano, R- Bradenton. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
    Sen. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, said she thinks Republican leaders want to keep the number under wraps because it points to the controversial program’s “failure.”
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement