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updated: 11/2/2012 9:26 PM

Extended-day pilot program aims to help Dist. 15's littlest learners in need of extra support

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Tim Waldorf

Over the past few years, several District 15 schools have seen a significant increase in the number of students who, upon entering their kindergarten classes, are already well behind their peers.

In an effort to properly prepare these students for first grade, three District 15 schools -- Central Road, Gray M. Sanborn, and Lincoln School -- are piloting an extended-day kindergarten program that increases the time and intensity of the instruction they receive.

Each of these three extended-day kindergarten classes is comprised of no more 15 students, each of whom tested into the program last spring. After attending a regular morning kindergarten session, these students stick around for lunch, recess, and an afternoon of additional literacy instruction.

That instruction doesn't simply repeat what they learned in the morning -- it strives to deepen it. Emphasis is placed on developing the students' oral language skills, their alphabet knowledge, and their understanding of letter sounds. By the year's end, the hope is that these kindergartners will be honing their early reading skills.

"These classes are essentially an off-shoot of our existing kindergarten intervention program in that they are intended for the schools' littlest learners who are most in need of extra support," said Dr. Maria McClurkin, the district's director of literacy programs. "Their purpose, really, is to catch these kids up with their peers -- to really get them ready for the first grade."

-- Story submitted by Community Consolidated School District 15