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Apply now for VPK

Florida's Free Voluntary Pre-K Program, administered by ELC Broward, builds a strong foundation for learning and prepares your child for kindergarten. 
 
Is your child eligible?
Children must live in Florida & be at least 4-years-old on or before Sept. 1 2018. (Proof of age & residency required)
 
Click here to apply.
 
Questions?
Call 954-377-2188

What does a VPK Readiness Rate mean?

What does the VPK Provider Kindergarten Readiness Rate mean?

All Public school kindergarten children receive a screening to assess their “kindergarten readiness” within the first 30 days of the school year, as required by state law.  This year, a new assessment instrument, the STAR Early Literacy Assessment, was implemented. It is an online computer program that Kindergarten students take independently within the first 30 schools days. The STAR Early Literacy assesses alphabetic principles, letter recognition, and early math skills. Technological assistance is offered to a child, if needed, to navigate the assessment.   The assessment scores of the children are then connected back to the class/child care center where the child attended Voluntary Pre-K (VPK).  The scores of the children who took the STAR Early Literacy assessment at each Kindergarten are then averaged in order to establish the program’s VPK Readiness Rate. This year, children’s scores were significantly lower than in previous years, and these lower scores were applied toward the individual child care centers/classes where the children attended VPK.  This year’s scores were lower not only in Broward County, but throughout the State of Florida. While certainly not ignoring these scores, there are other factors that may have contributed to the lower scores.

For many kindergarten students (and their teachers), this was the first time they had used a computer and mouse to take a test.   During the VPK year, children were assessed by having them point to answers in a book. Additionally, many VPK classrooms utilize tablets with touch screens when implementing technology into learning.  Using a computer and/or mouse may be a new skill for some children and time to adapt and create comfort is short since testing occurs within the first month of school.

Additionally, in the weeks of summer vacation, many children lose some of the content that was reinforced throughout the VPK school year.  This is known as “summer slide”.  Students have a tendency to score much lower on standardized tests at the beginning of a school year than on tests taken at the beginning of the school as they are adjusting to a new learning environment. This is often demonstrated on the VPK Assessment which is given at the beginning and at the end of the year. The majority of children demonstrate progress and score higher in May than they did when the program started in August.

Finally, the Kindergarten Readiness Rate may not be entirely accurate because children who attend private school after VPK aren’t required to be tested.  There is currently no formula in place to account for this factor when calculating scores. Therefore, the Readiness Rate doesn’t reflect all children who attended the program and doesn’t take into account the successful progress of children who are attending kindergarten in private schools.

In summary, the Kindergarten Readiness Rate is not a sole reflection of a school and should not be used in isolation when choosing a VPK program that is right for your child/family.  The STAR Assessment is best used as a baseline to determine what children know when they enter kindergarten and how the kindergarten teacher can plan for their instruction. As we learn more and become more familiar with the STAR assessment, partner with our public school kindergarten programs and implement the new Four Year Old Standards, the ELC is committed to providing continued training and support for our VPK classrooms and families preparing for Kindergarten.

The Summer Before Kindergarten

Starting kindergarten can be an exciting and emotional time for children, but also for adults. Feelings may vary from happy, nervous or scared. As children reach this milestone, you may ask yourself if they are ready.  Children will come from varying experiences. Kindergarten may be some children’s first school experience, others may have been in school since birth and some may have just gone to VPK.  It is important to remember that being ready for kindergarten is not just about knowing ABC’s and 123’s. If your child knows how to count to 10 or more, knows their alphabet and can either recognize or even write their name, they are on a great start. If they are not there yet, it is important to remember that it is not expected or required. Children learn at their own pace and at their own time. There are other things to look for when thinking about being kindergarten ready such as following simple directions, asking for help, sharing and taking turns.  The summer is a great time to get your child emotionally ready for kindergarten. Some things you can do together are to read books about starting Kindergarten, visit the school before, label their things around the house so they begin to recognize their name and start a bedtime routine.  Reading is always a fun way for children to learn new things. Just by looking at the pictures or by reading the story, children learn so much. Here are some books about kindergarten to share.

  • The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing
  • Anabelle Swift, Kindergartner By Amy Schwartz
  • Count Down to Kindergarten By Alison MCGhee
  • Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready For Kindergarten By Joseph Slate
  • Welcome to Kindergarten By Anne Rockwell

 

Enjoy this time and remember before you know, they will be starting middle school!

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Board Member Vacancies

The Early Learning Coalition of Broward County (ELC) is currently accepting applications from local business professionals to fill vacant seats on its Board of Directors.  Created through State Statute, the ELC administers more than $90 million in local, state and federal funds for child care subsidies, child care teacher training, and other functions to improve access to and quality of early childhood education for Broward’s children and families.  The ELC is guided by its Board of Directors. The Board consists of a combination of governor appointed members, local government and administrative agency leaders, child care professionals, and other local leaders.  Because this board makes decisions concerning public dollars, it is governed by Sunshine Law and State of Florida conflict laws. 

The ELC welcomes all interested business leaders and child care providers living in Broward County to join in its goal, to provide access to, and supports for the early learning of young children.  Interested individuals should download a copy of the Private Business  or Private Provider Board Member Nominating form and the Policies Governing Board Membership by clicking the link on “How to Get Involved” section of our website. 

Completed Nominating forms should be emailed to Irene Ramos at iramos@elcbroward.org.

For questions about Board Membership please call  (954) 377-2183.