Savin Rock’s extended-day kindergarten program sees success
Savin Rock’s extended-day kindergarten program sees success
Posted on 05/21/2014
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WEST HAVEN, May 19, 2014 —As the district prepares to expand kindergarten offerings in three schools next fall, it will build off of the success seen in a pilot program started this year at Savin Rock Community School.

Administrators implemented in October an extended-day kindergarten session that accommodated about 18 students at Savin Rock. Next fall, they will launch all-day classes for all kindergarteners at Savin Rock and one extended-day group of around 18 at Washington Elementary School and another at Forest Elementary School.

Research has shown that more classroom time gives kindergarteners a better foundation for literacy and numeracy skills they need to develop while progressing through school, according to Assistant Director of Pupil Services Stefania Izzo-Larry and district K-6 language arts coach Ritamarie Bouchard. Early attention to academic difficulty is also key and can prevent students from falling behind in later grades.

Growth seen in Savin Rock extended-day students this year has given West Haven educators even more confidence that expanded kindergarten offerings can make a powerful difference in a child’s education.

The extended-day students are earning higher scores in core areas than Savin Rock peers who remain in half-day classes, although they are still working toward matching scores of peers across the district.

 “We hope this can be one intervention that assists in leveling the playing field,” Izzo-Larry said.

Savin Rock’s extended-day program this year brought children from different Savin Rock kindergarten classes together for an additional 90 minutes of literacy instruction after school four days a week. In October, teachers recommended students for the group based on academic needs. Forest’s and Washington’s extended-day sessions will operate in the same way next year.

The district continues monitoring Savin Rock students’ progress in the pilot program and has been impressed with results. When students entered the program, they were not proficient in five core areas: recognizing upper- and lower-case letters and letter sounds, breaking down parts of a word, and recognizing “sight words,” or words most often seen in text.

But after recently completing a fifth unit of the literacy curriculum, all of the extended-day students saw complete mastery with skill sets in three of those areas and almost all mastered skills in a fourth area. They needed more work when it came to recognizing sight words, but educators are encouraged.

Teachers in Savin Rock’s extended-day program use the additional time with students to work more on an individual or small-group basis depending on how students are doing in their regular kindergarten class. They also use movement-enhanced learning techniques that incorporate physical movement with literacy skills to exercise different parts of the brain and help with skill retention.

The extra effort is important because while students generally master reading in first grade, they are now expected to leave kindergarten with a greater skill set to become successful readers, Izzo-Larry said. Kindergarteners today read simple books on their own in class, as well as with the teacher, and write opinions of what they read.

“We’ve written and implemented a new, rigorous curriculum for all kindergarteners that better addresses first-grade expectations,” Izzo-Larry said.

Extended-day and full-day programs can allow struggling students more time to work on key concepts and also give time for other students who have mastered skills to move on to the next level.

“I think first-grade teachers are going to see a huge difference when they get students who have been in full-day kindergarten,” Bouchard said.

Contact: Communications Director Susan Misur, 203-937-4300 X7114; susan.misur@whschools.org