ELC Survey results:
districts find innovative ways to expand programs
August 2003 (pdf-637kb)
Pre-kindergarten and full-day
kindergarten programs are becoming key strategies in enhancing
school readiness and closing the student achievement gap. In this
survey of Washington's 296 school districts, EOI found that
throughout the state districts are using various funding sources
to go beyond-state-mandated programs.
Nationwide, there is great interest
in the role public schools play in early childhood education. School districts are increasingly investing in pre-kindergarten
and full-day kindergarten as key strategies for enhancing school
readiness and closing the student achievement gap. [For a more thorough
discussion of the benefits of high quality early childhood education,
please go to
Policy on the menu above.]
Because anecdotal information suggests that school districts in
Washington state are increasingly investing in early childhood
decided to research the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten
offerings of the State’s 296 school districts. Our goal is to increase understanding of the role that
Washington’s public schools are playing in early childhood education and
contribute to the emerging discussions and decisions about universal
preschool and full-day kindergarten in Washington State.
Information on pre-kindergarten and kindergarten offerings by school
districts in Washington State was obtained in the following way:
In the spring and summer of 2002, a
telephone survey was conducted of the state’s 296 school districts.
Every effort was made to talk to the district staff most knowledgeable
about the district’s pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs.
Depending upon the size of the district, respondents included
superintendents, directors of district early childhood education
programs, elementary school principals, kindergarten teachers and
This EOI survey was supplemented
by a survey of King County school districts conducted by the
Seattle-King County Department of Public Health as part of its work on
early childhood development. The Public Health Department used the EOI
survey instrument for its survey, resulting in comparable data.
Additional information was obtained from
school district websites, newspaper articles and reports on school
district use of Initiative 728 funds for pre-kindergarten and full-day
For the purposes of this research, the following definitions of
school district pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs were used:
Full-Day Kindergarten or Extended
Program: Any school district program offering kindergarten
instructional hours in excess of the state requirement of 180
half days or equivalent of instruction.
serving children of pre-kindergarten age-usually defined as three- to
five-year olds. Pre-kindergarten programs are usually distinguished
from childcare programs by having a focus on school readiness, as
opposed to custodial care. The school district pre-kindergarten
programs described are activities that are in addition to the special
education services that school districts are required by law to
provide to children with disabilities starting at age 3.
Half-Day Kindergarten or Equivalent:
The state’s Basic Education Act requires school districts to provide
180 half-days of instruction, or equivalent, in kindergarten (RCW
28A.150.220). Some districts meet this requirement by providing 180
half-days; others meet the requirement by providing 90 full days or
some other variation that is the equivalent of 180 half days.
The following information was collected about each school district’s
full-day kindergarten and pre-kindergarten programs:
Indication of unmet demand and plans for
A description of the kindergarten and
pre-kindergarten programs in each school district
The number of children served by each
program and the eligibility requirements for participating children
Program funding information
Program evaluation information
The information collected to date in this survey is by no means
complete or static. Additions and corrections from local school
districts would be greatly appreciated and can be sent to
Enrollment: Washington State Office of Superintendent of
Public Instruction (OSPI) “October 2001 Headcount.”
K Enrollment: OSPI “2001-2002 Form P-105, District Summary,”
April 2002 Note: This figure refers to the district's total kindergarten enrollment
(including both half- and full-day kindergarten).
Students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch program: OSPI,
“Public School Districts Free and Reduced-Price Meal Eligibility Status
by District,” October 2001
Note: While the percentage of students in the free/reduced price lunch
program is not a direct measure of poverty, it is at present the best
existing measure and is used extensively throughout comparable research
Students meeting state standards (4th grade WASL): OSPI,
“Education Profile, WASL Scores by District,” 2002.
Note: Blank cells indicate no scores were reported. Scores are not
reported when fewer than 10 students are tested to protect student
Students of Color/Migrant Students/Bilingual Students: OSPI,
“Education Profile, Demographic Information by District,” 2002. Note: For the purposes of this research, students of color were
defined as the percentage of non-white students in a district. This
includes the categories of African American, Asian American, Hispanic,
and Native American.
Kindergarten and pre-kindergarten program description and attributes:
The vast majority of this information is taken from the results of the
telephone survey conducted with school districts by EOI in spring 2002.
When available additional information was taken from school district
websites, newspaper articles, and the 2001 collection, “Testimonials on
the Impact of Initiative 728” from the League of Education Voters.
To access school district websites,
OSPI Data Administration school district link listing.
Superintendent of Public Instruction
OSPI is the primary agency charged with
overseeing K-12 education in Washington State. Led by State School
Superintendent Dr. Terry Bergeson, OSPI works with the state’s 296
school districts to administer basic education programs and implement
education reform on behalf of more than one million public school
League of Education Voters Foundation
LEV educates the public about Washington State education issues
including information concerning school funding.
Education Commission of the States
An interstate compact on education begun in the 1960s. ECS is a source
of information on many education topics, including state initiatives
National Institute for Early Education Research
NIEER supports early childhood education initiatives by providing
objective, nonpartisan information based on research. The institute
offers independent research-based advice and technical assistance to
four primary groups: policy makers, journalists, researchers, and
This survey could not have been completed without the efforts of
Rebecca Glander, EOI Research Associate, and her faculty advisor, Russ Lidman at
Seattle University. EOI also greatly appreciates the support of the
following people and organizations:
Ruby Takanishi and the Foundation
for Child Development
Seattle-King County Department of Public Health