From the Times:
Washington has won a major federal education competition and will receive up to $60 million during the next four years to improve private preschool programs across the state.
In Washington, the money will go to support two initiatives: free training for preschool providers, and a standardized assessment that kindergarten teachers will use at the beginning of the school year to determine the skill level of the incoming class.
About 175,000 children are served by 7,400 private child-care programs throughout the state, said Betty Hyde, director of the state's Department of Early Learning, an agency created five years ago by Gov. Chris Gregoire and the Legislature to improve early education. Another 8,000 children attend ECEAP, and about 14,000 are in the federally-funded Head Start program.
The grant will pay for the providers in those programs to get the latest training in early learning.
The other major initiative, the kindergarten assessment, will give kindergarten teachers the training and the time in class they need to get a sense of how ready their students are for kindergarten. The assessment is observational — no testing is involved. But teachers who have piloted the program say they have a much better understanding of what their students know after doing the assessment, said Bonnie Beukema, assistant director of the Department of Early Learning.
The money will allow the state to assess all incoming kindergartners by 2014.