School Starting Times, Transitional Kindergarten

There has been much discussion in our school district, community, state, and nation about the recommendation by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine to have middle school and high school students start school no earlier than 8:30 A.M. The research on the sleep requirements for teenagers included discussion on the readiness of elementary students to learn earlier in the day.

Although the perfect school schedule does not exist, I do feel that the overall consensus in these conversations is to move our elementary school starting times earlier and move the secondary school starting time close to the recommended time of 8:30 A.M.  The district will need to work with the transportation department to finalize these times later this spring.

Also, the Clinton Community School District is discussing adding “transitional kindergarten” as a service to students and parents.  The following are two factors that support “transitional kindergarten”:

  • The age difference between a “young” and an “old” five-year old’s life experiences is about 16%, greater than in any other time in K-12 education.
  • The kindergarten curriculum that we experienced has now been pushed down to the four-year old’s preschool experience.  Today’s kindergarten classroom is much more academic, increasing the importance of readiness to learn.

I want every student on the first day of first grade to be at grade level or above, ready to learn with success.  “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.

We will inform you more about these two changes as we plan for the next school year.

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