Kennewick ranks high in kindergarten assessment

TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- KEPR knows your child's education is important to you. It's why we're following up on the full-day kindergarten programs right here in the Tri-Cities. Action News discovered Kennewick's students ranked higher than the other districts last year.

The Zukers are like any other parents, already thinking about school while their child is just a toddler. They want to examine their options for kindergarten.

"Of course, it's very important. It just shapes who they are for the rest of their life," said parent Genevieve Zuker.

All-day kindergarten was offered in more schools this year. And the state intends to offer it in every school in the near future. Washington thinks it will save resources later if kids are prepared early-on. We learned our big three local districts all fell below the state average overall, when it came to the assessment of kids entering kindergarten.

The study evaluated kids on things like social-emotional skills, language, math and more. Most five- and six-year-olds in the Tri-Cities were performing at a level of a three- to five-year-old. The fewest number of kids performing below their age level were in Kennewick.

"We're always excited when our kids do really well, especially to see that our young kids are coming prepared for school," said Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education Greg Fancher.

Kennewick officials attribute the good work to Ready for Kindergarten and ECEAP, two pre-K programs. More than 200 kids in the district participate in ECEAP, and almost 40 spots are available for the program in Richland. In Pasco, the program doesn't exist. Pasco's pre-K offering is limited to kids with disabilities. Reps know that early intervention prevents extra work later.

"But where they start is a really important issue, because it's very difficult to catch kids up," added Fancher.