This post brought to you by the letter K: Kindergarten cut-offs, Kaya Henderson, and Tom Kane and others at CAP
Kindergarten Cutoffs and Transitional Kindergarten in California
: I'm not all that psyched about California's recent decision to move up the cut-off date for kindergarten entry. Given that their December 2 date was the latest in the country, moving it up might make sense. But available evidence suggests doing so could have negative results--including increasing drop-out rates or lowering levels of educational attainment down the road. That said, I've got to give the state kudos for not making the cynical budget move here: Moving up the kindergarten cut-off date can produce one-time budget savings because it reduces the number of children enrolled in kindergarten for one year. Rather than tapping this gimmick in the face of its budget woes, California is going to offer "transitional kindergarten" to kids whose birthdays fall between the old and new cut-offs. That's the right thing to do. There are decent arguments for postponing kindergarten entry for kids who really aren't developmentally ready or are very young for their age, but doing so doesn't do any good if it just means sit at home (or in crappy childcare) another year with limited access to learning opportunities. Now the question--and it's a big one--is whether the state and its districts can ensure the transitional kindergarten programs are quality programs that really benefit kids. Based on some of the points made in this recent Early Ed Watch post by Linda Jacobson, I think there are reasons for concern (ie, staffing transitional k with random RIFF'd teachers =/=recipe for good results).
Wondering what to think about new interim DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson? Read this Rick Hess post. My two cents: For all the questions outstanding about where Vincent Gray is likely to take ed reform in D.C., no one should doubt that the man is wicked smart, and naming Henderson as interim Chancellor is further evidence of that.
Tom Kane, Linda Darling Hammond, and others debate teacher performance assessment: This CAP event on teacher performance assessment, featuring Linda Darling Hammond and Tom Kane, looks like to be a barn burner. It's already full-up in person, but you can watch it streaming live here.