Extending Learning Time for Disadvantaged Students - Volume 2 Profiles of Promising Practices - 1995

A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

Extended-Day Kindergarten

Florence School District One
Florence County, South Carolina

Key Characteristics


Florence School District One began its extended-day Title I kindergarten program in 1973. The program serves 240 students a year in four elementary schools with Title I schoolwide projects; students whose scores on a skills checklist indicate a need for additional work on reading receive first priority in enrollment. The program focuses on improving cognitive, motor, and social skills needed to succeed in first grade, with a particular emphasis on early literacy development, including listening, speaking, and language skills. Students receive more than 630 extra hours of instruction a year and are evaluated with district-created assessment tools.

School Context

The school district serves 15,000 students in rural and urban communities. Approximately 75 percent of the students in Title I are African American, 24 percent are Anglo, and fewer than 1 percent are Hispanic. Fewer than 1 percent have limited English proficiency. Approximately 88 percent of the students in the extended-day program qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

Major Program Features

Teachers use the skills card to evaluate all kindergartners at the end of the first semester and again at the end of the year. Evaluated skills are based on the state's 18 objectives for kindergarten and include social skills, knowledge of personal information, gross and fine motor skills, expressive language, visual discrimination, and other skills at advanced and basic levels. Each child is compared only to himself, not to peers. Teachers use observation and portfolios to measure the skills card components. The district identified specific tasks, many of them hands-on, that children must perform to show mastery. For example, a child must be able to lace a shoe in a criss-cross pattern to show fine motor skills. Teachers also include writing samples and journals in the portfolios.

The kindergarten advisory committee is considering revising the skills checklist. The group believes that the assessment does not accurately reflect the way teachers are teaching. The group plans to create a developmentally appropriate assessment that will show a continuum of growth from age 3, when students begin to receive early intervention services, to age 5, when students begin kindergarten.

Implementation Issues

In the program's early stages, some students were bused to a different school for the afternoon program because it was not offered in all Title I schools. The program now operates at the four sites where Title I students are heavily concentrated, and students remain at the same school all day. This centralization allows children to work with the same teachers and aides throughout the school day, providing them with a greater sense of security and allowing them to concentrate their energy on learning.

Evidence of Success

In 1992-93, 80 percent of the extended-day Title I students mastered the advanced and basic skills on the locally developed skills card. In 1991-92, the last year for which the Developing Skills Checklist (DSC) was used for both pre- and post-program evaluation, extended-day kindergarten students in the district showed an average point gain of almost 47 percent after participating in the program; average gains of individual schools ranged from about 35 percent to 62 percent.
3 This includes lunch, recess, and nap time, much of which teachers consider instructional time. For example, teachers instruct students in social skills during a family-style lunch period. If this time is deducted, students receive about 450 extra hours a year.

4 This amount is based on 630 hours of extra instruction per year, and includes lunch, recess, and nap time. Excluding these activities, the cost is $2.22 per student per hour, based on 450 hours of service.

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