A task force charged with improving early childhood education in Kentucky is recommending the state develop a model curriculum for preschool programs and implement a screening tool for children entering kindergarten, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader. The Task Force on Early Childhood Development and Education released its findings Monday at a news conference in Frankfort. The group made eight recommendations that it said would strengthen Kentucky’s childhood education system. Gov. Steve Beshear convened the task force in February 2009.

The 28-member panel also recommended that the state adopt and distribute a universal school readiness definition to local communities and develop a governing model for early childhood education programs. Early childhood or preschool programs in Kentucky are run by a variety of entities, including Head Start, school districts and private concerns. Beshear said the state would study the task force’s recommendations.

“This is a crucial and urgent initiative,” he said.

Many early childhood advocates have pushed for the state to expand state-funded and federally funded preschool, but the state has had limited money to do so. Beshear said Monday that the task force’s recommendations would better position Kentucky to expand those programs if the economy improves and more state or federal money becomes available. According to the most recent statistics, about 50,000 Kentucky children are enrolled in state-funded preschools or Head Start. That number does not include privately run preschools…

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