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Board of Education Recommends Two Kindergarten Levels

Sept. 24, 2008 — Since some children start kindergarten without attending preschool or getting taught the basics by their parents, the Board of Education is recommending that the Education Department develop two levels of kindergarten.
"The main idea of two groups of kindergarten is that those who need more time would not keep back those who need less time," said Board Secretary Oswin Sewer Sr.
The policy would allow students who need to catch up to spend an additional year in kindergarten, said Board Director Carol Henneman. More advanced students would move on to first grade after spending only one year in kindergarten.
"Some are more prepared than others," Henneman said.
The extra year would allow for improvements in basic cognitive and social skills, according to a news release from the board.
While most jurisdictions mandate that students starting kindergarten must be age five by the time they start school, the territory's policy indicates they must turn five by the end of December, Sewer said.
"Sometimes it makes a difference," Sewer said.
Henneman was careful to stress that the board is making a recommendation, not mandating two levels of kindergarten. Implementation depends on the availability of teachers and space, she said.
"We don't want to put more on their plates without the resources," Henneman said.
The territory's policy currently doesn't allow teachers to hold back underachieving students in grades kindergarten through third, Sewer noted. This recommendation by the Board of Education will change that policy regarding kindergarten.
Efforts to obtain comment from the Education Department were unsuccessful. Department spokesman Juel Anderson said she forwarded the Board of Education's news release to Education Commissioner La Verne Terry, who was off island at a conference, but Terry hasn't issued a statement. Terry is the only person who can respond, Anderson said.
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