Pre-K nurtures and develops children’s natural curiosity into a love of learning that prepares them for kindergarten, with the academic, social, and emotional building blocks to do well in elementary school. But the quality of early learning opportunities is inconsistent, and not all children have access to good public pre-K. Statewide, just 66 percent of students entering kindergarten grasp early math concepts like sorting, measurement, and identifying groups of less or more. The number dips as low as 42 percent for young students of color.
Since launching our early learning strategy in 2005, we have supported partners in building a strong, coordinated early learning system—through increased advocacy, research on quality, and better state data and measurement systems. That work began when the Department of Children, Youth and Families, Thrive by Five, and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction—with input from hundreds of residents and early childhood advocates—developed the Washington State Early Learning Plan. The plan served as the state’s handbook to ensure that all children have what they need to succeed in school and life.
We supported two key components of that plan:
- The Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills, or WaKIDS, brings families, teachers, and early learning providers together to provide a snapshot of where children are in their development at the start of kindergarten. This helps inform state-level decisions about education policy and investments and helps teachers tailor their instruction to children’s needs.
- Early Achievers—Washington’s Quality Rating and Improvement System—is a voluntary program that connects families to child care and early learning programs with the help of an easy-to-understand rating system. The program also offers coaching and resources for child care providers to support each child’s learning and development.