Kindergartners may be held back under new school district policy

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 30, 2003

[6/27/03]For the first time, kindergartners may be held back for a year without parental consent under a policy adopted Thursday by Vicksburg Warren School District trustees.

“With the new accountability standards and emphasis on testing, it’s essential that we pay particular attention to the progress, or lack thereof, of all our students,” said James Price, who becomes the district’s superintendent Tuesday. “Kindergarten is an integral part of the overall school program, and it’s imperative that they (students) master the skills in that curriculum before they move to the next level.”

The board’s former policy regarding promotion or retention of a kindergarten student was based on the child’s development and a conference with a parent or guardian and the teacher and administrator.

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The new policy states, “kindergarten students may be retained if sound documentation exists indicating that retention in kindergarten is warranted and in the best interest of the student’s future academic success. Decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis by the teacher, principal or support staff.”

“If we send a child on to the next grade and they’re not ready then we’ve done the student an injustice,” said Kay Aasand, board president and District 5 trustee.

Another change involving kindergarten comes this year because the Legislature voted to make kindergarten compulsory for the first time. Five-year-olds must now not only be enrolled in a public or private preschool program, but they must consistently be in attendance.

“We’ve got to get these kids in school, keep them in school every day and make sure they meet the standards for success in the first grade,” said Superintendent Donald Oakes.