Does Wisconsin's 4K program positively impact children's development? Yes. Wisconsin does not have data to correlate student performance on statewide tests with past 4K participation. We can, however, explore the impact by reviewing data from the National SWEEP study and from several Wisconsin school districts. See a summary here.
Research Related to 4K
Impact of Community Approaches
Benefits and Impact of 4K Community Approach Website: The Office of Early Learning is pleased to announce our new website that helps tell the story of what makes 4-year-old kindergarten community approaches (4KCA) so good for children, families, child care, school districts, Head Start, community programs, and the general public. We invite you to read and view the great stories from communities throughout Wisconsin as they share their perceptions of 54 benefits communities commonly realized after implementing 4KCA. In addition to the stories of the benefits, you can find Wisconsin Storyteller Bob Kann’s Storytelling Techniques and other strategies to help frame your own community’s story.
As enrollment in Wisconsin’s four-year-old kindergarten (4K) grows, interest in measuring 4K’s impact on child development has also increased. A variety of studies the positive impact of these programs on children, society, and the economy: Research on 4YK
Four-Year-Old Kindergarten Start Up Grants
The 2008 state budget began start up grants for school districts wanting to implement four-year-old kindergarten. The statutes required priority to school districts using community approaches to 4K through partnerships with child care and Head Start. Go to our Four-Year-Old Kindergarten Grants page for more details.
The Unique History of Four-Year-Old Kindergarten in Wisconsin
This policy brief examines the remarkable history of 4-year-old Kindergarten (4K) in Wisconsin. The paper explores key developments, starting with the inclusion of education for 4-year-olds in the 1848 Constitution and the establishment of first private kindergarten in the country in Watertown in 1856, and follows the surge in public education for 4-year-olds in the late 1800s, the decline from 1920-1970, and the resurgence from 1980-2010. The policy brief examines the causes of the rapid growth in the last 15 years and the emergence of the community approach to 4K, and lays out several implications for the future.
Visit the 4-Year-Old Kindergarten Companion Website
You can learn more about Community Approaches to 4K and the Forces for Four-Year-Olds initiative by visiting our Websites. You will find more information including: testimonials, financal guidance, and program evaluation.
You can also watch the new video on community approaches to 4-year-old kindergarten.
Other Information About Four-Year-Old Kindergarten
- Join the Forces for Four-Year-Olds listserve to share information and resources about 4K and communities approaches. Looking for ways to evaluate your 4K program, this webpage has a variety of tools for your consideration.
- You can see and hear a presentation on the "Benefits and costs for Quality Early Childhood Education" by W. Steven Barnett, Ph.D., National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).
- DPI Policy and Information Advisory 08.01 ♦ FEBRUARY 2008: This policy updates and replaces the 2002 bulletin on four-year-old kindergarten. These Question and Answers provide information generally to 4-year-old kindergarten and especially to 4-year-old kindergarten implemented in community approaches with child care and Head Start.
- 4-Year-Old Kindergarten is universal and open to all children. When a district offers 4K, it must be open for all age eligible children in the district. Districts may not phase-in enrollment nor have waiting lists for the program. This Policy is supported by state statute Section 102. 118.14.
- Rationale and Best Practices for 4-year-old Kindergarten
- View a Slide presentation on rules and practices related to 4K
- List of district reporting 4k in 2013-14. For more complete information and figures for past years, visit the Public School Program Data page that shows how districts report their 4K design (full day, half day, 2-3 days per week, etc.)
- Parent Outreach Activities
- 1991 ACT 48 4K State legislation
- Guiding Principles Curriculum Considerations
- A list of districts reporting that they are utilizing community approaches to 4-year-old kindergarten.
- Trends in 4-Year-Old Kindergarten: The number of Wisconsin school districts offering 4-year-old kindergarten, 1996-2014.
Lessons Learned from Community Approaches
More and more school districts are taking community approaches to four-year-old kindergarten by offering the program in an array of settings including schools, childcare, and HeadStart. The following links will help you learn more about these approaches.
- Community Approaches to Serving Four-Year-Old Children in Wisconsin: Lessons Learned from Wisconsin Communities
- Creating a Community Approach to Serving Four-Year-Old Children in Wisconsin: Public Awareness Packet
- Has a Cooperative Attitude: Wisconsin Communities Embrace the Community Approach To Serving Four-Year-Olds: This article from the Wisconsin Association of School Boards Association News is an update on the four-year-old kindergarten program in La Crosse and how it spread to other Wisconsin communities.
Reprinted with permission of Wisconsin School News, the official publication of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, Inc.
- Sandbox Synergy: This article from the Wisconsin Association of School Boards Association News describes efforts in LaCrosse to develop a community wide approach to 4-year-old kindergarten and how child care and the district became partners in 4k.