VPK ‘readiness’ test faces growing scrutiny
Midler & Kramer, P.A.: Protecting our children's constitutional right to free pre-kindgarten
TALLAHASSEE IS TAKING AWAY OUR CHILDREN'S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO FREE PRE KINDERGARTEN
FLORIDA IS ATTEMPTING TO TAKE AWAY
YOUR CHILD’S FREE PRE- KINDERGARTEN
WHAT IS VPK
Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten, known as “VPK”, was enacted by Constitutional Amendment in 2002. VPK is regulated by the Department of Education and provides free pre-kindergarten to Florida’s children.
A majority of Florida’s children enroll in VPK. VPK is designed to prepare our children for kindergarten by providing a “jump-start” in the development of reading, math, language, and social skills. Children are more likely to succeed when they have experience with these fundamental skills at an earlier age. VPK guarantees that every child has the opportunity and access to such an education.
SABOTAGE OF VPK
VPK protects Florida’s most precious resource: its youth. Unfortunately, Governor Scott is sabotaging VPK. Our Governor is disregarding Florida’s Constitution for political gain. In 2017, Governor Scott implemented a new test with the sole purpose of defunding each VPK provider rendering the Amendment meaningless. In its simplest terms, if enough of our children “fail” the test, Tallahassee will cut the funding to each and every VPK provider leaving Florida’s children without free pre-kindergarten.
WHAT TALLAHASSEE HAS DONE TO OUR CHILDREN
1. PUBLICATION: Florida Statute requires that our children’s test results cannot be published for at least 2 years after the exam is given for the first time. Tallahassee unlawfully published the results to create the impression that VPK is ineffective. Of course, the results were disappointing. The exam intentionally was designed for failure. This could all be avoided if Governor Scott would comply with our law. Florida Statute 1002.69(5) requires that no test results be published for at least two successive years after a test’s initial administration. The test, and its results, must be evaluated for a minimum of two years. Publishing the assessment results on the Department of Education website is an admission that the tool, the implementation, and the results have been investigated, evaluated, and approved by the State of Florida. This fundamentally cannot be!
2. COMPUTERIZED EXAM: The test was given to our four and five-year old children using a keyboard and a mouse. This has not been done previously. Four and five-year old children are unfamiliar with, and are not developmentally ready, to take an assessment exam using a keyboard and a mouse. A key board and mouse are for recreation at such an early age.
3. TIMELINESS OF THE EXAM: The VPK test for “kindergarten readiness” should have been given at the end of the VPK pre-school year. The test was given shortly after summer vacation. How would an adult perform, after a two-month vacation, returning to work and compelled to take a supervisor’s examination.
4. TEACHER OBSERVATION: The law requires that teacher evaluation and observation must be included in determining “kindergarten readiness”. The Department of Education considers teacher input as a “gain”. Although the observations were uploaded to the Department of Education, the “gains” were disregarded. Without teacher input, our children did not receive the credit, thus lowering the scores. The “kindergarten readiness rates” were based solely on this experimental year one new test. The current test results are inherently invalid without the inclusion of our children’s “teacher evaluations.”
Governor Scott is engaging in the systematic destruction of the VPK program. When “kindergarten readiness rates” fall below a certain percentage, pre-schools lose their VPK funding. Free pre-school will be gone rendering VPK meaningless. Governor Scott has ignored requests to take down the test results; change the current test, and amend the implementation of the exam.
Governor Scott wants VPK to fail furthering his conservative and political interests. Defunding VPK would assist his current Senate race by siding with his corporate constituency. Florida is 28th in the national rankings of our nation’s public-school system. At the very least, we need to accurately determine what works and what doesn’t. If we rely on a flawed test, and a defective implementation of a faulty test, we have failed our children.