State-Funded Full-Day Kindergarten in Washington
State-funded full-day kindergarten is part of the state’s
constitutionally protected definition of “Basic Education.”
Funding for School Years 2015–2016 and 2016–2017
On June 30, 2015, the Governor signed the 2015–17 state biennial operating budget that provides sufficient funding for 100 percent of kindergarten students in the state to receive full-day kindergarten beginning in the 2016–17 school year.
However, school districts are not required to offer full-day kindergarten in eligible schools until the 2017–18 school year, at which time it is required by the Basic Education Act. Until then, school districts were given the opportunity to decline to receive funding from the state for the 2016–17 school year.
In the 2016–17 school year, a total of 1,137 elementary schools in 287 school districts with an estimated 77,945 students are receiving funding for full-day kindergarten.
Memorandum 079-15M was sent out in early January 2016 asking school districts if they would like to receive funding for newly eligible schools in the 2016-17 school year. A total of 393 new schools in 118 school districts with an estimated 23,000 students are eligible to be funded in 2016–17.
Eligibility and Program Elements
Determination of eligibility for state-funded full-day kindergarten is based on
an individual school’s poverty percentage from the prior school year in October.
Schools must meet the following program elements to be eligible for state funds for full-day kindergarten:
- At least 1,000 hours of instruction in 180 school days. However, schools may
use up to three days at the beginning of the school year for the WaKIDS “Family
- Curriculum that offers a rich, varied set of experiences that assist students in:
- Developing initial skills in the academic areas of reading, mathematics, and writing;
- Developing a variety of communication skills;
- Providing experiences in science, social studies, arts,
health and physical education, and a world language other than
- Acquiring large and small motor skills;
- Acquiring social and emotional skills including successful
participation in learning activities as an individual and as
part of a group; and
- Learning through hands-on experiences.
- Establish learning environments that are developmentally appropriate and
- Demonstrate strong connections and communication with early learning
- Participate in kindergarten program readiness activities with early learning
providers and parents.
- Administer the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS).
In previous years, OSPI required that schools receiving state-funding offer full-day kindergarten for all kindergarten students in the school based on a requirement in the 2007 budget. A number of school districts expressed concerns about this requirement limiting the number of students they are able to provide full-day kindergarten. As a result of these concerns, OSPI has initiated the rulemaking process to remove the requirement.
As a result, schools are no longer required to offer full-day kindergarten in every classroom if the school does not have capacity to do so. OSPI will provide funding for the students who are in full-day kindergarten classrooms and one-half day funding for those who are not. When selecting students for these full-day classrooms, school districts must prioritize students from low income families and consider other students who will likely receive the greatest benefits from full-day kindergarten.
This will be applicable only for school year 2016–17, as all school districts will be required to offer full-day kindergarten for all incoming kindergartener students beginning school year 2017–18.
Full-day Kindergarten Guide
OSPI, in conjunction with Early Learning Coordinators in the Bellingham and Sumner School Districts, have created a
Full-day Kindergarten Guide for administrators and teachers as they design and implement full-day kindergarten classrooms in Washington.
Order hard copies from the state Department of Enterprise Services. Order at: myprint.wa.gov
Additional Helpful Resources
For more information, including how to design a successful full-day kindergarten program.
State Laws on State-Funded Full-Day Kindergarten