Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe with Gov. Chris Gregoire and education advocates at the WaKIDS kindergarten assessment bill signing
OLYMPIA — Today, a bill to phase-in statewide implementation of the Washington kindergarten inventory of developing skills (WaKIDS) was signed into law.
WaKIDS brings families, teachers and early learning providers together to support children’s learning and transition into public schools. Each child is assessed for their social/emotional, cognitive, language/literacy and physical development in the classroom.
Authorized in 2009 by the Legislature, WaKIDS was developed in collaboration with a diverse group of stakeholders, including elementary teachers and principals, special education specialists, early care and education providers, parents, and representatives from Washington’s Tribal communities.
Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D—Bothell, sponsored the companion to House Bill 2586 and was the lead advocate in the Senate.
“This is one of the most important bills we will ever pass due to the impact on learning for our littlest learners,” said McAuliffe. “All children are capable of learning, achieving and making developmental progress regardless of their physical emotional conditions, backgrounds, or experiences.”
WaKIDS began as a voluntary pilot program for the 2010-11 school year. Beginning in the 2012-13 school year, WaKIDS must be administered to all students enrolled in state-funded full-day kindergarten programs with the exception of students who have been excused from participation by their parents or guardians.
WaKIDS must be implemented statewide in full-day kindergarten by 2017-18. The goal is to move up statewide implementation to 2014-15 and assess all kindergarteners — a requirement under Washington's Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant award.
The Legislature intends for WaKIDS to replace other assessments unless those assessments pertain to information that is not covered by WaKIDS.
Until statewide implementation of full-day kindergarten, school districts can be granted annual, renewable waivers from the requirement to administer WaKIDS if comparable information is provided.
The new law establishes a WaKIDS workgroup including the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Department of Early Learning, teachers, principals, parents, and designated partners. The workgroup will provide input and recommendations with respect to:
· implementing WaKIDS;
· the best way to administer WaKIDS to children in half-day kindergarten programs while ensuring they receive the maximum instruction as required by law; and
· achieving the goal of replacing assessments currently required by school districts with WaKIDS.
A preliminary report and recommendations are due to the Legislature Dec. 1, 2012 and annually by Dec. 1st thereafter.