Text: S.4033 — 109th Congress (2005-2006)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in Senate (09/29/2006)


109th CONGRESS
2d Session
S. 4033


To provide for Kindergarten Plus programs.


IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

September 29, 2006

Mr. Dodd (for himself, Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Kerry, Mr. Lieberman, Mr. Durbin, Mr. Schumer, and Mrs. Clinton) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions


A BILL

To provide for Kindergarten Plus programs.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Kindergarten Plus Act of 2006”.

SEC. 2. Findings.

Congress makes the following findings:

(1) Kindergarten has proven to be a beneficial experience for children, putting children on a path that positively influences their learning and development in later school years.

(2) Kindergarten and the years leading up to kindergarten are critical in preparing children to succeed in elementary school, especially if the children are from low-income families or have other risks of difficulty in school.

(3) Disadvantaged children, on average, lag behind other children in literacy, numeracy, and social skills, even before formal schooling begins.

(4) For many children entering kindergarten, the achievement gap between children from low-income households compared to children from high-income households is already evident.

(5) Eighty-five percent of beginning kindergartners in the highest socioeconomic group, compared to 39 percent in the lowest socioeconomic group, can recognize letters of the alphabet. Similarly, 98 percent of beginning kindergartners in the highest socioeconomic group, compared to 84 percent of their peers in the lowest socioeconomic group, can recognize numbers and shapes.

(6) Once disadvantaged children are in school, they learn at the same rate as other children. Therefore, providing disadvantaged children with additional time in kindergarten, in the summer before such children ordinarily enter kindergarten and in the summer before first grade, will help schools close achievement gaps and accelerate the academic progress of their disadvantaged students.

(7) High quality, extended-year kindergarten that provides children with enriched learning experiences is an important factor in helping to close achievement gaps, rather than having the gaps continue to widen.

SEC. 3. Definitions.

In this Act:

(1) ELIGIBLE STUDENT.—The term “eligible student” means a child who—

(A) is a 5-year old, or will be eligible to attend kindergarten at the beginning of the next school year;

(B) comes from a family with an income at or below 185 percent of the poverty line; and

(C) is not already served by a high-quality program in the summer before or the summer after the child enters kindergarten.

(2) KINDERGARTEN PLUS.—The term “Kindergarten Plus” means a voluntary full day of kindergarten, during the summer before and during the summer after, the traditional kindergarten school year (as determined by the State).

(3) LOCAL EDUCATIONAL AGENCY.—The term “local educational agency” has the meaning given the term in section 9101 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 7801).

(4) PARENT.—The term “parent” includes a legal guardian or other person standing in loco parentis (such as a grandparent or stepparent with whom the child lives, or a person who is legally responsible for the child's welfare).

(5) PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT.—The term “parental involvement” means the participation of parents in regular, 2-way, and meaningful communication with school personnel involving student academic learning and other school activities, including ensuring that parents—

(A) play an integral role in assisting their child's learning;

(B) are encouraged to be actively involved in their child's education at school; and

(C) are full partners in their child's education and are included, as appropriate, in decisionmaking and on advisory committees to assist in the education of their child.

(6) POVERTY LINE.—The term “poverty line” means the poverty line (as defined by the Office of Management and Budget, and revised annually in accordance with section 673(2) of the Community Services Block Grant Act (42 U.S.C. 9902(2))) applicable to a family of the size involved.

(7) ELIGIBLE PROVIDER.—The term “eligible provider” means a local educational agency or a private not-for-profit agency or organization, with a demonstrated record in the delivery of early childhood education services to preschool-age children, that provides high-quality early learning and development experiences that—

(A) are aligned with the expectations for what children should know and be able to do when the children enter kindergarten and grade 1, as established by the State educational agency; or

(B) in the case of an entity that is not a local educational agency and that serves children who have not entered kindergarten, meet the performance standards and performance measures described in subparagraphs (A) and (B) of subsection (a)(1), and subsection (b), of section 641A of the Head Start Act (42 U.S.C. 9836a) or the prekindergarten standards of the State where the entity is located.

(8) SCHOOL READINESS.—The term “school readiness” means the cognitive, social, emotional, approaches to learning, and physical development of a child, including early literacy and early mathematics skills, that prepares the child to learn and succeed in elementary school.

(9) SECRETARY.—The term “Secretary” means the Secretary of Education.

(10) STATE EDUCATIONAL AGENCY.—The term “State educational agency” has the meaning given the term in section 9101 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 7801).

SEC. 4. Grants to State educational agencies authorized.

(a) In general.—The Secretary is authorized to award grants, on a competitive basis, to State educational agencies to enable the State educational agencies to provide Kindergarten Plus within the State.

(b) Sufficient size.—To the extent possible, the Secretary shall ensure that each grant awarded under this section is of sufficient size to enable the State educational agency receiving the grant to provide Kindergarten Plus to all eligible students served by the local educational agencies within the State with the highest concentrations of eligible students.

(c) Minimum amount.—The Secretary shall not award a grant to a State educational agency under this section in an amount that is less than $500,000.

(d) State use of funds.—A State educational agency shall use—

(1) not more than 3 percent of the grant funds received under this Act for administration of the Kindergarten Plus programs supported under this Act;

(2) not more than 5 percent of the grant funds received under this Act to develop professional development activities and curricula for teachers and staff of Kindergarten Plus programs in order to develop a continuum of developmentally appropriate curricula and practices for preschool, kindergarten, and grade 1 that ensures—

(A) an effective transition to kindergarten and to grade 1 for students; and

(B) appropriate expectations for the students' learning and development as the students make the transition to kindergarten and to grade 1; and

(3) the remainder of the grant funds to award subgrants to local educational agencies.

(e) Priority.—In awarding grants under this Act the Secretary shall give priority to State educational agencies that—

(1) on their own or in combination with other government agencies, provide full-day kindergarten to all kindergarten-age children who are from families with incomes below 185 percent of the poverty line within the State; or

(2) demonstrate progress toward providing full-day kindergarten to all kindergarten-age children who are from families with incomes below 185 percent of the poverty line within the State by submitting a plan that shows how the State educational agency will, at a minimum, double the number of such children that were served by a full-day kindergarten program in the school year preceding the school year for which assistance is first sought.

SEC. 5. Subgrants to local educational agencies.

(a) In general.—Each State educational agency that receives a grant under this Act—

(1) shall reserve an amount sufficient to continue to fund multiyear subgrants awarded under this section; and

(2) shall award subgrants to local educational agencies within the State to enable the local educational agencies to pay the Federal share of the costs of carrying out Kindergarten Plus programs for eligible students.

(b) Priority.—In awarding subgrants under this section the State educational agency shall give priority to local educational agencies—

(1) serving the greatest number or percentage of kindergarten-age children who are from families with incomes below 185 percent of the poverty line, based on data from the most recent school year; and

(2) that propose to significantly reduce the class size and student-to-teacher ratio of the classes in their Kindergarten Plus programs below the average class size and student-to-teacher ratios of kindergarten classes served by the local educational agencies.

(c) Federal share.—The Federal share of the costs of carrying out a Kindergarten Plus program shall be—

(1) 100 percent for the first, second, and third years of the program;

(2) 85 percent for the fourth year of the program; and

(3) 75 percent for the fifth year of the program.

(d) In-Kind contributions.—The non-Federal share of the costs of carrying out a Kindergarten Plus program may be in the form of in-kind contributions.

SEC. 6. State application.

(a) In general.—In order to receive a grant under this Act, a State educational agency shall submit an application to the Secretary at such time and containing such information as the Secretary determines appropriate.

(b) Consultation.—The application shall be developed by the State educational agency in consultation with representatives of early childhood education programs, early childhood education teachers, principals, pupil services personnel, administrators, paraprofessionals, other school staff, early childhood education providers (including Head Start agencies, State prekindergarten program staff, and child care providers), teacher organizations, parents, and parent organizations.

(c) Contents.—At a minimum, the application shall include—

(1) a description of developmentally appropriate teaching practices and curricula for children that will be put in place to be used by local educational agencies and eligible providers offering Kindergarten Plus programs to carry out this Act;

(2) a general description of the nature of the Kindergarten Plus programs to be conducted with funds received under this Act, including—

(A) the number of hours each day and the number of days each week that children in each Kindergarten Plus program will attend the program; and

(B) if a Kindergarten Plus program meets for less than 9 hours a day, how the needs of full-time working families will be addressed;

(3) goals and objectives to ensure that high-quality Kindergarten Plus programs are provided;

(4) an assurance that students enrolled in Kindergarten Plus programs funded under this Act will receive additional comprehensive services (such as nutritional services, health care, and mental health care), as needed; and

(5) a description of how—

(A) the State educational agency will coordinate and integrate services provided under this Act with other educational programs, such as Even Start, Head Start, Reading First, Early Reading First, State-funded preschool programs, preschool programs funded under section 619 or other provisions of part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1419, 1411 et seq.), and kindergarten programs;

(B) the State will provide professional development for teachers and staff of local educational agencies and eligible providers that receive subgrants under this Act regarding how to address the school readiness needs of children (including early literacy, early mathematics, and positive behavior) before the children enter kindergarten, throughout the school year, and into the summer after kindergarten;

(C) the State will assist Kindergarten Plus programs to provide exemplary parent education and parental involvement activities such as training and materials to assist parents in being their children’s first teachers at home or home visiting;

(D) the State will conduct outreach to parents with eligible students, including parents whose native language is not English, parents of children with disabilities, and parents of migratory children; and

(E) the State educational agency will ensure that each Kindergarten Plus program uses developmentally appropriate practices, including practices and materials that are culturally and linguistically appropriate for the population of children being served in the program.

SEC. 7. Local application.

(a) In general.—In order to receive a subgrant under this Act, a local educational agency shall submit an application to the State educational agency at such time and containing such information as the State educational agency determines appropriate.

(b) Consultation.—The application shall be developed by the local educational agency in consultation with early childhood education teachers, principals, pupil services personnel, administrators, paraprofessionals, other school staff, early childhood education providers (including Head Start agencies, State prekindergarten program staff, and child care providers), teacher organizations, parents, and parent organizations.

(c) Contents.—At a minimum, the application shall include a description of—

(1) the standards, research-based and developmentally appropriate curricula, teaching practices, and ongoing assessments for the purposes of improving instruction and services, to be used by the local educational agency that—

(A) are aligned with the State expectations for what children should know and be able to do when the children enter kindergarten and grade 1, as set by the State educational agency; and

(B) include—

(i) language skills, including an expanded use of vocabulary;

(ii) interest in and appreciation of books, reading, writing alone or with others, and phonological and phonemic awareness;

(iii) premathematics knowledge and skills, including aspects of classification, seriation, number sense, spatial relations, and time;

(iv) other cognitive abilities related to academic achievement;

(v) social and emotional development, including self-regulation skills;

(vi) physical development, including gross and fine motor development skills;

(vii) in the case of limited English proficiency, progress toward the acquisition of the English language; and

(viii) approaches to learning;

(2) how the local educational agency will ensure that the Kindergarten Plus program uses curricula and practices that—

(A) are developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate for the population of children served in the program; and

(B) are aligned with the State learning standards and expectations for children in kindergarten and grade 1;

(3) how the Kindergarten Plus program will improve the school readiness of children served by the local educational agency under this Act, especially in mathematics and reading;

(4) how the Kindergarten Plus program will provide continuity of services and learning for children who were previously served by a different program;

(5) how the local educational agency will ensure that the Kindergarten Plus program has appropriate services and accommodations in place to serve children with disabilities and children who are limited English proficient;

(6) how the local educational agency will perform a needs assessment to avoid duplication with other programs within the geographic area served by the local educational agency;

(7) how the local educational agency will—

(A) transition Kindergarten Plus participants into local elementary school programs and services;

(B) ensure the development and use of systematic, coordinated records on the educational development of each child participating in the Kindergarten Plus program through periodic meetings and communications among—

(i) Kindergarten Plus program teachers;

(ii) elementary school staff; and

(iii) local early childhood education program providers, including Head Start agencies, State prekindergarten program staff, and center-based and family child care providers;

(C) provide parent and child orientation sessions conducted by teachers and staff; and

(D) provide a qualified staff person to be in charge of coordinating the transition services;

(8) how the local educational agency will provide instructional and environmental accommodations in the Kindergarten Plus program for children who are limited English proficient, children with disabilities, migratory children, neglected or delinquent youth, Indian children served under part A of title VII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.), homeless children, and immigrant children;

(9) how the local educational agency will conduct outreach to parents of eligible students, including parents whose native language is not English, parents of children with disabilities, and parents of migratory children, which may include—

(A) activities to provide parents early exposure to the school environment, including meetings with teachers and staff;

(B) activities to better engage and inform parents on the benefits of Kindergarten Plus and other programs; and

(C) other efforts to ensure that parents have a level of comfort with the Kindergarten Plus program and the school environment;

(10) how the local educational agency will assist the Kindergarten Plus program to provide exemplary parent education and parental involvement activities such as training and materials to assist parents in being their children’s first teachers at home or home visiting; and

(11) how the local educational agency will work with local center-based and family child care providers and Head Start agencies to ensure—

(A) the nonduplication of programs and services; and

(B) that the needs of working families are met through child care provided before and after the Kindergarten Plus program.

SEC. 8. Local requirements and provisions.

(a) Local uses of funds.—A local educational agency that receives a subgrant under this Act shall use the subgrant funds for the following:

(1) The operational and program costs associated with the Kindergarten Plus program as described in the application to the State educational agency.

(2) Personnel services, including teachers, paraprofessionals, and other staff as needed.

(3) Additional services, as needed, including snacks and meals, mental health care, health care, linguistic assistance, special education and related services, and transportation services associated with the needs of the children in the program.

(4) Transition services to ensure children make a smooth transition into first grade and proper communication is made with the elementary school on the educational development of each child.

(5) Outreach and recruitment activities, including community forums and public service announcements in local media in various languages if necessary to ensure that all individuals in the community are aware of the availability of such program.

(6) Parental involvement programs, including materials and resources to help parents become more involved in their child’s learning at home.

(7) Extended day services for the eligible students of working families, including working with existing programs in the community to coordinate services if possible.

(8) Child care services, provided through coordination with local center-based child care and family child care providers, and Head Start agencies, before and after the Kindergarten Plus program for the children participating in the program, to accommodate the schedules of working families.

(9) Enrichment activities, such as—

(A) art, music, and other creative arts;

(B) outings and field trips; and

(C) other experiences that support children's curiosity, motivation to learn, knowledge, and skills.

(b) Eligible provider grants and applications.—The local educational agency may use subgrant funds received under this Act to award a grant to an eligible provider to enable the eligible provider to carry out a Kindergarten Plus program for the local educational agency. Each eligible provider desiring a grant under this subsection shall submit an application to the local educational agency that contains the descriptions set forth in section 7 as applied to the eligible provider.

(c) Continuity.—In carrying out a Kindergarten Plus program under this Act, a local educational agency is encouraged to explore ways to develop continuity in the education of children, for instance by keeping, if possible, the same teachers and personnel from the summer before kindergarten, through the kindergarten year, and during the summer after kindergarten.

(d) Coordination.—In carrying out a Kindergarten Plus program under this Act, a local educational agency shall coordinate with existing programs in the community to provide extended care and comprehensive services for children and their families in need of such care or services.

SEC. 9. Teacher and personnel quality standards.

To be eligible for a subgrant under this Act, each local educational agency shall ensure that—

(1) each Kindergarten Plus classroom has—

(A) a highly qualified teacher, as defined in section 9101 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 7801); or

(B) if an eligible provider who is not a local educational agency is providing the Kindergarten Plus program in accordance with section 8(b), a teacher that, at a minimum, has a bachelor's degree in early childhood education or a related field and experience in teaching children of this age;

(2) a qualified paraprofessional that meets the requirements for paraprofessionals under section 1119 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 6319), is in each Kindergarten Plus classroom;

(3) Kindergarten Plus teachers and paraprofessionals are compensated on a salary scale comparable to kindergarten through grade 3 teachers and paraprofessionals in public schools served by the local educational agency; and

(4) Kindergarten Plus class sizes do not exceed the class size and ratio parameters set at the State or local level for the traditional kindergarten program.

SEC. 10. Direct grants to local educational agencies.

(a) Grants authorized.—If a State educational agency does not apply for a grant under this Act or does not have an application approved under section 6, then the Secretary is authorized to award a grant to a local educational agency within the State to enable the local educational agency to pay the Federal share of the costs of carrying out a Kindergarten Plus program.

(b) Eligibility.—A local educational agency shall be eligible to receive a grant under this section if the local educational agency operates a full-day kindergarten program that, at a minimum, is targeted to kindergarten-age children who are from families with incomes below 185 percent of the poverty line within the State.

(c) Application.—In order to receive a grant under subsection (a), a local educational agency shall submit to the Secretary an application that—

(1) contains the descriptions set forth in section 7; and

(2) includes an assurance that the Kindergarten Plus program funded under such grant will serve eligible students.

(d) Applicability.—Sections 8 and 9 shall apply to a local educational agency receiving a grant under this section in the same manner as the sections apply to a local educational agency receiving a subgrant under section 5(a).

SEC. 11. Evaluation, collection, and dissemination of information.

(a) In general.—Each State educational agency that receives a grant under this Act, in cooperation with the local educational agencies in the State that receive a subgrant under this Act, shall create an evaluation mechanism to determine the effectiveness of the Kindergarten Plus programs in the State, taking into account—

(1) information from the local needs assessment, conducted in accordance with section 7(c)(6), including—

(A) the number of eligible students in the geographic area;

(B) the number of children served by Kindergarten Plus programs, disaggregated by family income, race, ethnicity, native language, and prior enrollment in an early childhood education program; and

(C) the number of children with disabilities served by Kindergarten Plus programs;

(2) the recruitment of teachers and staff for Kindergarten Plus programs, and the retention of such personnel in the programs for more than 1 year;

(3) the provision of services for children and families served by Kindergarten Plus programs, including parent education, home visits, and comprehensive services for families who need such services;

(4) the opportunities for professional development for teachers and staff; and

(5) the curricula used in Kindergarten Plus programs.

(b) Comparison.—The evaluation process may include comparison groups of similar children who do not participate in a Kindergarten Plus program.

(c) Information collection and reporting.—The information necessary for the evaluation shall be collected yearly by the State and reported every 2 years by the State to the Secretary.

(d) Analysis of effectiveness.—The Secretary shall conduct an analysis of the overall effectiveness of the programs assisted under this Act and make the analysis available to Congress, and the public, biannually.

SEC. 12. Supplement not supplant.

Funds made available under this Act shall be used to supplement, not supplant, other Federal, State, or local funds available to carry out activities under this Act.

SEC. 13. Authorization of appropriations.

For the purpose of carrying out this Act, there are authorized to be appropriated $1,500,000,000 for fiscal year 2007 and such sums as may be necessary for each of the fiscal years 2008 through 2012.