Fact Sheet: Proposed Change in Kindergarten Curriculum

December 17, 1999
[The following is the text of a "Fact Sheet" on the decision by the Board of Education this week to initiate a revision to the Kindergarten curriculum. The "fact sheet" was provided today (Friday, December 17, 1999) to all elementary principals and kindergarten teachers for review and distribution to staff and parents in their schools.]

What was the action taken by the Board of Education?

The Board of Education authorized the formation of a planning group that would design a new curriculum for Kindergarten. The Board specifically said that the new curriculum should be used to strengthen the rigor of Kindergarten by improving the focus on reading, writing, and mathematics. The new curriculum has not been designed yet.

Will there be a planning group to design the new curriculum?

Yes. A planning group comprised of teachers, principals, specialists, and parents will be asked to develop the specifics of the new curriculum. National and international Kindergarten models and best practices already underway in MCPS will be used as models. Individuals interested in serving on such a committee should contact Dr. Patricia Flynn, director of academic programs (301-279-3350), or Ms. Pamela Prue, director of early childhood services (301-230-0691).

Is there a timeline?

Yes. The objective is to have a new curriculum in time for the 2000-2001 school year.

Why do we need a stronger curriculum for Kindergarten?

A stronger curriculum is necessary to support an accelerated, literacy based curriculum for both half-day and full-day Kindergarten programs. The redesign was proposed in response to a recognition that many students leaving Kindergarten still have significant achievement gaps, especially when scores are disaggregated by race and ethnicity.

Why now?

The Board of Education asked the superintendent to respond to its academic priorities by providing recommendations to "develop, expand, and coordinate a literacy-based birth to Kindergarten initiative." The request for a new curriculum also responds to the recent report "Our Call to Action: Raising the Bar and Closing the Gap, Because All Children Matter."

Is there a proposal to eliminate arts, music, and physical education from Kindergarten?

No. There is no proposal to eliminate arts, music, or physical education from the Kindergarten program. In fact, there may be no reduction at all in arts, music, or physical education as these subjects are integrated into a literacy-based curriculum and as reading, writing, and math utilize art, music, and physical education to achieve literacy outcomes.

What about planning time and specialists?

The proposed emphasis on literacy will provide adequate opportunity for teacher planning, per the negotiated agreement, and allow for art, music, and physical education specialists to provide direct, weekly instruction that supports literacy outcomes without diminishing current staffing in these subjects.

What else is being planned regarding Kindergarten?

One recommendation is to expand the number of full-day programs from the current nine schools to approximately 28 schools next year, focusing on the most highly impacted schools. Funding has been recommended in the operating budget. The second recommendation involves the formation of centers that would offer full-day Kindergarten programs for elementary schools that do not have space, and these centers would offer other community services. Funding has been requested in the Capital Improvement Program for such centers for 2002.

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