WESTPORT, Conn. – Westport kindergartners may be in class longer starting next year as the Board of Education considers implementing five-day, full-day kindergarten—an issue that has Westport parents divided.
The district will next year adopt the Common Core State Standards—national academic standards that define what students in each grade level should know. In order to meet these standards, administrators say more academic instruction time will be needed.
Currently, kindergartners have three full-days of classes and two shortened days. By switching to a five full-day model, students would be in class for four additional hours each week. This extra time will satisfy the need for more academic instruction without cutting into developmental activities, like physical education, music and other “specials,” Superintendent Elliott Landon said.
“It’s my opinion that if we don’t go to five day, full-day, we’ll be spending less time on developmentally appropriate activities and more time on academic instruction just to meet the obligations the state’s required of us,” Landon said.
More than a dozen parents, some of whom were wearing “Vote For Full Day K” stickers, were at Monday night’s meeting to speak in favor of the proposal.
Sheri Rabiner-Gordon said switching to five day, full-day kindergarten will allow students more time to do their work and therefore eliminate stress.
“My kids, who are two different learners, both felt that the short days were already too stressful because they were rushed, and that the long days were better,” she said. “Once you look at what’s happening with the [Common Core] and the increase in demands, it’s inevitable that the short days will become even more demanding if we stay with our current system.”
Like Rabiner-Gorson, parent Line Blanco said she does not want students to become stressed by having to do more work with less time. She also does not to see academic time cut into specials.
Caroline Iannucci, on the other hand, is against moving to a five full-day model. She said Westport can achieve the curriculum changes set forth by the Common Core within the current kindergarten schedule, without cutting into specials.
“After comparing the current goals of our curriculum with the standards of the Common Core, Westport has been meeting and exceeding many of these new standards for a number of years, so why do we have the need now to add another four hours of instruction time?” she said.
Parent Jacquie Marumoto recommended the board approve the proposal with an opt-out option like in Wilton. This, she said, will allow parents who want their children to participate in the full-day program to do so, and those who don’t to opt-out of it.
The board will vote on the proposal at its April 8 meeting, board Chairwoman Elaine Whitney said.