KIDS and kindergarten transition: Updates from Early Education
By Alex Baptiste
Illinois is taking significant steps to reinvest in early childhood education. Last month, ISBE launched a new page for the Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS), an observational tool assessing Kindergarten readiness that will be implemented statewide this coming school year. The General Assembly passed a kindergarten transition bill (HJR 24) and allocated $50 million in new money to early education programming. These steps are key to improving education outcomes for our most vulnerable students, and we applaud them.
As we shared in Every Student Counts: The State We’re In 2016-2017, as more students have access to preschool programming, more will enter kindergarten ready to succeed, but now the state will actually be able to track student progress at the early education milestone. As kindergarteners learn and play, teachers will be trained to observe key developmental skills like social and emotional learning, language and literacy, math, and perseverance. Teachers and parents will receive information on how best to support their students, and will provide important feedback on the effectiveness of our public early education programs.
The General Assembly’s recent passage of HJR 24 goes a step further by improving ties between early education and K-12 institutions. HJR 24 establishes a Kindergarten Transition Advisory Committee that will determine best practices for linking early education programs to K-12. Areas for exploration include how to better link communications, continuing care, professional development and data between early education programs and K-12 institutions. The committee will also provide recommendations on how to incorporate KIDS into student assessments and expand access to high quality preschool.
Both KIDS and HJR 24 will improve our understanding and prioritization of early childhood education. KIDS will help us understand the preparedness of our youngest students, while HJR 24 will bring together early education programs and K-12 institutions to better support them.
The General Assembly’s allocation of $50 million to early education provides much needed resources that will fund the continued work of KIDS, HJR, and other improvements in early childhood programing. Together, these efforts will strengthen our existing early education programs, and expand quality access to more students in the state.