All Students Ready for Kindergarten

  • Westonka Public Schools uses Early Childhood Screening to check the basic health and development of a child between the ages of 3 and 4 years. This screening is required for kindergarten entrance. The areas of screening include height, weight, vision, hearing, health history, family factors, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, language skills, cognitive skills and social and emotional skills. The screening is specifically designed to identify children who may have fallen behind and may benefit from district and community resources/intervention services. This process is intended to aid in closing the achievement gap. The district’s goal to have 100 percent of students eligible for kindergarten pass their kindergarten assessment screenings in the spring.

    Results:
    In 2019, Westonka Early Childhood screened 172 children. Of those children, 160 were determined to be kindergarten-ready (94%). Twelve students were referred to Early Childhood Special Education or to medical or mental health specialists.

Early Learning School Readiness Plan

  • Every two years, the district’s Early Childhood Department reviews its program to identify strengths and areas to improve. The early childhood staff review the following elements, which includes an update on each element:

    1. assess each child's cognitive and language skills
      • Each year, students’ growth with their cognitive and language skills is conducted by early childhood staff. Specific measurement is taken in the areas of language, cognitive development, literacy and mathematics.
    2. provide comprehensive program content and intentional instructional practice aligned with the state early childhood learning guidelines and kindergarten standards
      • The Westonka Early Childhood Program uses the Creative Curriculum for Preschool program. It is a research-based curriculum based on children’s developmental levels and interests. Children’s interests drive the learning, as our staff plan activities based on specific developmental skills. Student progress is assessed using the Teaching Strategies GOLD assessment program, which is a birth through third grade assessment system based on developmental standards by the Minnesota Department of Education.
    3. coordinate appropriate kindergarten transition discussions and activities with parents and kindergarten teachers 
      • Preschool and kindergarten staff meet each year to discuss and plan for a smooth transition between preschool and kindergarten. Focus is placed on the following student attributes:
        • Pre-writing skills
        • Oral communication
        • Math skills
        • 21st century skills
        • Physical development
        • Social-emotional skills
    4. involve parents in program planning and decision making and coordinate with relevant community-based services
      • The Westonka Early Childhood Advisory Council meets five times a year to help provide insight and guidance for program planning and decision making.
    5. cooperate with adult basic education programs and other adult literacy programs
      • Classes related to early childhood topics are coordinated through Westonka Community Education.
    6. ensure staff-child ratios of 1:10 and maximum group size of 20 children with the first staff required to be a teacher
      • All early childhood classes have a teacher and an assistant teacher. Our maximum class size at the Westonka Early Childhood Center is 16 students and 20 students at the Westonka Early Learning Center.
    7. have teachers knowledgeable in early childhood curriculum content, assessment, native and English language development programs, and instruction
      • All early childhood staff are knowledgeable and have been trained in the Creative Curriculum for Preschool (classroom curriculum) and Teaching Strategies GOLD (assessment system). All teachers and assistants are trained in the Pyramid Model Framework, a social-emotional framework used throughout the program.