Created: 08/26/2014 7:03 PM KAALtv.com
By: Dan Conradt
(ABC 6 News) -- It's a new day for kindergarten in Minnesota.
"All-day everyday kindergarten will be offered across the state and that's not with a fee," said principal Jessica Cabeen at Austin’s Woodson Kindergarten Center.
“When you have the full day to work with the kids it’s going to make a bigger difference," Rochester Public Schools superintendent Michael Munoz told ABC6.
The Rochester Shool District was already offering all-day kindergarten at six sites. This year, it goes district-wide.
"We think the kids who were in the full day program may have been more ready for first grade than those who didn't," Munoz said.
“They develop those soft skills that transition into the elementary and middle and high school, and their ability to interact with each other and that in turn helps them to learn as well," Cabeen said.
The Austin school district was ahead of the curve when it came to launching all day-every day kindergarten: the first students to attend Austin’s all-day-K program enter high school this year.
And one measure of a student's growth is called 'text level'; it's an assessment of the student's reading ability.
"We had about 400 kids coming in not being able to read or not being at a text level per our curriculum, and at the end of the year we ended up with only 66 students not being at a text level moving into first grade," Cabeen told us.
"When they were half day they didn't have the opportunity to go to music and PE and art, and now they'll have opportunities like that as well," Michael Munoz said.
The Rochester school district has created 17 additional classrooms to accommodate the expansion.