SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Preschool is supposed to be the building block for kids before they enter elementary school.
Here in Florida, the voluntary pre-kindergarten program, also known as VPK, was created to do just that, prepare our young students for school.
However, lawmakers say the results of a new state test show the program is not going according to plan. The concern begins with recent test results that show 42 percent of the state’s VPK kids are not ready for kindergarten. They failed the end-of-the-year readiness tests.
Gov. Ron DeSantis is now directing the Florida Department of Education to come up with an improved plan. This program has been in place since 2005 when an amendment was passed requiring all four-year-old children be offered a free, high-quality pre-kindergarten learning opportunity by the state.
That’s why DeSantis has asked the education commissioner to make changes for as soon as next school year. However, district officials in Sarasota County say kids here are scoring higher than the statewide average.
As recently as the the 2017-2018 school year, 69 percent of VPK kids in Sarasota County passed their readiness exam.
“I think it’s really important,” Bridget Ziegler of the Sarasota County School Board said. “We have to have our pulse on early education. I mean it sets the trajectory of success for our children as they enter into Kinder and all throughout K12. I think when you look at it as a state, there’s a lot of districts grappoling with how you can successfully prepare kids for Kindergarten. I think as a district, we’ve done a tremendous job.”
Aside from VPK, Sarasota County does have other free, pre-kindergarten programs like Gocio and SLA.