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District 203 Exploring All Day Kindergarten as a Response to the Common Core State Standards

After all of the meetings and newspaper articles about the Enrollment Capacity Study and all day Kindergarten, many people still seem to be unaware of, or are discounting, the rationale behind Naperville District 203’s desire to institute all day Kindergarten; the demands to be placed on our youngest children with the implementation of the more rigorous Common Core State Standards.

The effects of the standards will be far-reaching. Students in Illinois will be required to learn specific concepts sooner and demonstrate significant analytical skills. It’s not about just finding the right answer anymore, it’s now going to be about being able to also explain and defend why it is the right answer. Additionally, there is a major push to increase text complexity at every grade level, and the standards place far greater emphasis on students reading nonfiction. This change in emphasis will affect every student in every grade, starting in Kindergarten, where the standards call for the Kindergarten curriculum to introduce the use of instructional texts (nonfiction) to students.

The QualityEducation203.org website has three articles discussing the Common Core: an overview of the standards, a discussion of the English language arts standards and another for the math standards. There is widespread agreement that the Common Core represents the greatest improvement to curricular standards in decades. If you have, or will have, students in school you owe it to them and yourselves to learn about what the standards mean. We also have links to numerous reference websites.

From all that has been said, it is apparent that D203 teachers, principals and administrators overwhelmingly agree the current 2 ½ hours of instruction in Kindergarten is inadequate to create the kind of foundational learning our children will now need as they enter 1st grade. Indeed, it is sobering to look at how much more an incoming 1st grader will now be expected to know. District 203 has done a wonderful job getting by with a half day program (one of only 15% of Illinois Districts to do so), but with the advent of the Common Core, these professionals feel D203 needs to finally commit to an all day program if its students are to start off their educational careers on the right path.

There are some modest additional costs, and the District is scouring their budget to find the funds. The proposal is not without controversy; some 203 parents vocally oppose all day Kindergarten because they think it’s the reason their child is being moved under the Enrollment Capacity Study. But, in the end, District 203’s responsibility is to do what’s right for all its students, now and in the future, and if many D203 employees and parents have their way, it looks like that means instituting all day Kindergarten. Now it’s up to the board of education to see if they agree.

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