Rachael Keating/Clinton Herald

Bluff Elementary School kindergarteners (from left) Nikolai Schachel, Violet Malone and Carter Dann work on writing their names Thursday in Erin Griswold's kindergarten class.

Rachael Keating 2018

CLINTON — The Clinton Community School District is discussing adding transitional kindergarten as an initiative in upcoming school years, according to Superintendent Gary DeLacy.

Transitional kindergarten aims to serve as a bridge between preschool and kindergarten for younger students, the superintendent said. These students may be needing social or academic experience before they are fully immersed in traditional kindergarten.

DeLacy believes the impact of transitional kindergarten on the district could be great, preparing Clinton children for a more in-depth, educational kindergarten experience when they're ready.

"I am a huge believer that every student on the first day of kindergarten should be in a position to be successful and they should not be behind," DeLacy told school board members Monday. "(Kindergarten) used to be more about creative play...but kindergarten now is much more academic. There's an expectation of being ready to learn on the first day of kindergarten."

The transitional kindergarten would focus on children who have a summer, or "late" birthday, as DeLacy called it, relative to others in their potential kindergarten class. The initiative would allow parents to place their "young" children in transitional kindergarten for a year before entering actual kindergarten.

DeLacy said he's talked to district elementary teachers and principals, hearing overwhelming support for the potential initiative. DeLacy told board members Monday he heard from those sources, "We have some students that would really benefit from the concept."

The superintendent has discussed the plan on a personal blog in recent weeks, going in-depth regarding the nuts and bolts of the idea.

"I want every student on the first day of first grade to be at grade level or above, ready to learn with success," DeLacy's post from Wednesday said. "Transitional kindergarten students will be taught the same kindergarten curriculum without the pressure of being proficient in all the standards. However, if a student in transitional kindergarten blooms during the year, and is meeting or exceeding benchmarks, they will be recommended for first grade based on academic indicators. Those transitional kindergarten students that are not at benchmark at the end of the year would enter kindergarten the next year as leaders in their class."

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