Rates for early kindergarten vary sharply between schools

HUDSON–What schooling should one expect children to have before first grade? Columbia County’s six public school districts offer pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. Starting September 2019, the Hudson City School District will offer additional options, with 2- year kindergarten (2YK). However, a majority of its students will still have one-year kindergarten (1YK).

The 2YK class will be for those children judged at the time of kindergarten screening to be “not ready for kindergarten,” according to Hudson City School District Superintendent Maria L. Suttmeier. Examples include those who do not know the names of colors and shapes in any language. Every year kindergarten screening has indentified 15 to 20 children in the district who need more than a year to prepare for first grade, she added. Therefore, plans anticipate 2YK classes with 15 to 20 children.

In future years, the second year of 2YK is expected to have mainly children from the previous year’s first year of 1YK. This year, it will be for children who have completed kindergarten and are judged to need more preparation before being ready for first grade.

The 2YK classes will be separate from 1YK and pre-kindergarten classes. However, in state statistics students in both years of 2YK will be counted as kindergarteners, said Mark Brenneman, principal of Montgomery C. Smith Elementary School.

Of the 497 children in Columbia County who attended public kindergartens in the fall 2017, only 187 of them attended the county’s public pre-kindergartens the year before, according to the state Education Department. This enrollment rate ranges from 18.3% in Chatham and to 88.6% in Germantown (see Table). The chart does not include the kindergarteners who went to private pre-schools and pre-kindergartens who received equivalent preparation at home.

Assuming a December 1 birthday cutoff and advancing one grade each year, children with 1YK only start formal schooling at age 4 or 5, enter first grade at age 5 or 6, and graduate from high school at age 17 or 18.

Those with pre-kindergarten plus 1YK start at 3 or 4 and still graduate from high school at 17 or 18. Those with 2YK only will start at 5 or 6, enter first grade at 6 or 7, and graduate at 18 or 19. Those with pre-kindergarten plus 2YK will start at 3 or 4, enter first grade at 6 or 7, and graduate at 18 or 19.

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