The New Rochelle Board of Education received a presentation last Tuesday which concluded with a request that the board consider the possibility of revising the birthday requirement for Kindergarten.
The presentation was made by Assistant Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jeffrey Korostoff along with Maia Starcevic, an English-side Kindergarten teacher in the CILA Program at Jefferson School.
The point of the presentation was to highlight the significant developmental differences between the 4-year-old and 5-year-old children who enter Kindergarten in September within the context of the new Common Core learning standards for Kindergarten, which indicate what students are expected to know and be able to do by June. The effect of the new standards is to bring what had been required in first grade to the Kindergarten level. The idea of changing the birthday requirement for Kindergarten would be to help children be successful with this more rigorous curriculum.
One approach would be to have entering K students "loop" with their teacher for a two-year period. The teacher would have the same children for 20 months and, taking into account the major developmental differences that children present upon their arrival, there would be more time to accomplish what is required by the end of first grade. This model would have no additional cost factors associated with it.
Another approach would be to have an "Early Kindergarten/Pre-First Grade" program for some children. As a practical matter, this would entail a fourteenth year of schooling and thus have a cost factor associated with it.
Korostoff acknowledged that changing the district's birth date requirement for Kindergarten was not likely to be a popular solution because the district now offers Full-Day K and changing the cut-off would keep some children out of the program for an additional year. He concluded that this was something he wanted the board to consider as a way to get a public conversation started on how the district wants to deal with the new Common Core learning standards for Kindergarten.