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Kindergarten Jump Start earns 2014 Magna Award

Vancouver Public Schools’ (VPS) Jump Start program today was named one of 15 first-place Magna Award winners. The awards are given by education magazine American School Board Journal, published by the National School Boards Association (NSBA), a not-for-profit organization representing state school board associations and local school board members. The annual awards recognize best practices in school district leadership.


Jump Start, a free summer program, provides academic and developmental activities to give incoming kindergarten students the skills to begin learning on the first day of school. In 2013, 14 VPS schools offered either a two- or four-week Jump Start program. District-wide, Jump Start served a total of 600 students. The program was supported in part by a $75,000 contribution from the Foundation for Vancouver Public Schools.


In 2013, nearly half of the students who attended Jump Start at least 13 days were ready for benchmark-level instruction. Jump Start students are more likely to be at benchmark than their non-Jump Start peers.


Thanks to the program, 99 percent of all kindergarteners were enrolled prior to the start of school. On the first day, Jump Start students were ready to begin learning immediately due to their familiarity with classroom structure and expectations. Continuity of student-teacher relationships also helps ensure a smooth transition; 71 percent of teachers taught Jump Start in the same school as their regular kindergarten assignment.


Parents also benefit from the program. Parent-teacher conferences during Jump Start build relationships that enable parents to becomepartnersin their childseducation at the very beginning.


“The Magna Awards, supported by Sodexo, showcase outstanding models for local school board leadership and school district success to advance student achievement,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, executive director of the National School Boards Association. “Vancouver Public Schools’ Kindergarten Jump Start program is a strong example of a school district’s commitment to early learning activities to promote future student achievement through high school graduation.”


“The VPS board of directors has long supported early learning activities that increase the likelihood of students meeting benchmarks and continuing their academic achievement,” said Board President Dale Rice. “We hope that this recognition encourages other school boards to consider adopting similar early learning programs.”


Said VPS Superintendent Steve Webb, “We are honored to receive a 2014 Magna Award and thank the American School Board Journal and NSBA for recognizing Jump Start as a best practice. We also thank our board, staff and the Foundation for Vancouver Public Schools for supporting the program.”


As an award recipient, VPS and the Jump Start program will be spotlighted in the March/April 2014 issue of American School Board Journal.