Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott highlighted a report that shows for the fifth consecutive year Florida students who completed the Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) Education Program were better prepared for kindergarten than those who only attended part of the program or did not participate in VPK at all. Governor Scott’s 2014-15 “It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget” calls for investing more in VPK. This would be the first increase in the VPK student allocation in three years.
Governor Scott said, “This kind of year-after-year improvement among Florida’s children shows the results of focusing on factors that help young child learn what they need to know to be ready to start kindergarten. I congratulate Florida’s early childhood educators for their hard work and am proud to recommend an increase in funding to boost in the base student allocation by $100 per child for both the school-year and summer programs.”
Florida ranks first in the nation with regard to prekindergarten access. Close to 80 percent of Florida’s four-year-olds—more than 174,000 children—were enrolled in VPK in the 2012-13 program year. The program is free for children who are Florida residents and will be 4 years old by September 1 of the year they would enroll.
Shan Goff, executive director of the Office of Early Learning, said, “Florida is a leader in early learning; we offered four-year-olds universal access to prekindergarten ahead of other states. More importantly, we are proving this commitment works as the percentage of children completing VPK who are ready for kindergarten continues to rise each year.”
The results of the 2013 Florida Kindergarten Readiness Screener (FLKRS) showed that almost 82 percent of children who completed a VPK program were ready for kindergarten, compared to about 53 percent of those who did not participate in VPK. Florida’s children who attended some VPK fared better than those who did not attend at all. Approximately 66 percent of those who attended some VPK were kindergarten-ready.
Public schools are required to give FLKRS to children within the first 30 days of kindergarten. Private kindergartens may choose to participate. Screening results help kindergarten teachers plan how they teach in their classrooms. The results are also used to calculate VPK provider kindergarten readiness rates. Beginning with the 2010-11 year, the state adopted 70 as the minimum acceptable readiness rate for a VPK provider, indicating that 70 percent of that provider’s students who substantially completed the program screened ready on FLKRS.
2013 Florida Kindergarten Readiness Screener (FLKRS)
Part of the Florida Department of Education, the Office of Early Learning administers Florida’s Voluntary Prekindergarten Education, School Readiness, and Child Care Resource and Referral programs through 30 local early learning coalitions to ensure Florida’s children are emotionally, physically, socially and intellectually prepared to enter school and ready to learn. More than 350,000 children from birth to school age are enrolled in voluntary prekindergarten and school readiness programs in Florida. To learn more, visit www.FloridaEarlyLearning.com or call 850-717-8604.