Early Childhood

Report Urges States to Clarify Policies, Adjust Aid for Full-Day Kindergarten

By Linda Jacobson — July 12, 2005 3 min read

States need to clarify and strengthen their policies on full-day kindergarten in order for youngsters to receive high-quality learning experiences during this critical year, concludes a study released by the Education Commission of the States.

The Denver-based organization’s analysis of kindergarten statutes in all 50 states found that most states lack policies that guarantee access to full-day kindergarten, don’t have rules for how kindergarten programs should be paid for by the state, and don’t have specific standards regarding instructional and teacher quality.

Read the report, “Full-Day Kindergarten: A Study of State Policies in the United States,” from the Education Commission of the States.

States also vary widely on how they define a full day: Some say four hours constitutes a full day, while others require six hours. And most states don’t collect data on which children in their states—based on their race/ethnicity or family income—are attending half-day or full-day programs, the report adds.

While half-day kindergarten has existed for most children since the 1930s, this report comes as more states and local districts are instituting full-day programs as one strategy to help narrow the academic achievement gaps between middle-class and disadvantaged children.

Kristie Kauerz, the early learning program director for ECS and the author of the report, writes that full-day programs also recognize that close to 70 percent of children attend some center-based preschool before kindergarten, and many of those students are used to attending a full-day program before they enter kindergarten.

“Full-day kindergarten provides continuity for children who are accustomed to full-day experiences outside the home as well as continuity with schedules in 1st grade and beyond,” the report says.

Ms. Kauerz also noted that full-day programs have benefits for working parents, such as offering them one place where their children can go while they are at work. Teachers benefit as well, she wrote, because they have “more time for both formal and informal instruction” promoting cognitive development as well physical and social-emotional learning.

Because kindergarten serves as a bridge between early-childhood education programs and the rest of the K-12 education system, learning standards for this grade should be connected to those for both preschool and for 1st grade and beyond, Ms. Kauerz recommends. They should also reflect not just facts and general knowledge, but other areas of a young child’s development, including language and literacy, and physical, motor, and social development, the report says.

Funding Incentives

Even though she recommends that states require local school districts to offer full-day kindergarten, Ms. Kauerz writes that in the absence of these policies, states can encourage districts to expand their kindergarten programs to a full day if certain financial incentives are in place.

For example, a district has an incentive to offer full-day or half-day kindergarten when the per-pupil funding from the state is the same or greater than it is for 1st grade.

But an even stronger incentive exists when the level of funding is greater than it is for 1st grade and more money is provided for full-day than for half-day kindergarten. Seven states—Alaska, Georgia, Illinois, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, and Wisconsin—offer both these incentives.

Some states, however, create disincentives for local districts by setting per-pupil aid rates that are lower for kindergarten than for 1st grade and by offering the same amount of funding for a full-day program as they would for half-day kindergarten. Nineteen states pay for kindergarten this way, the report shows.

As it is, only nine states actually require that districts offer full-day kindergarten, and only two of those nine require that children attend full-day kindergarten.

Ms. Kauerz recommends that even if states can’t afford to pay for full-day programs for all, they should implement strategies that enable districts to offer full-day classes for certain populations of students, such as those from disadvantaged families or those in schools that are not meeting adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Related Tags:

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Recruitment & Retention Webinar
Recruiting and Retaining a More Diverse Teaching Workforce
We discuss the importance of workforce diversity and learn strategies to recruit and retain teachers from diverse backgrounds.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
Student Well-Being Webinar Boosting Teacher and Student Motivation During the Pandemic: What It Takes
Join Alyson Klein and her expert guests for practical tips and discussion on how to keep students and teachers motivated as the pandemic drags on.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Holistic Approach to Social-Emotional Learning
Register to learn about the components and benefits of holistically implemented SEL.
Content provided by Committee for Children

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Principal
Meredith, New Hampshire
Inter-Lakes School District
Elementary Principal
Washington State
Wenatchee School District
Principal
Meredith, New Hampshire
Inter-Lakes School District
Elementary Principal
Washington State
Wenatchee School District

Read Next

Early Childhood How Two Child-Care Centers Put Competition Aside and Created a Partnership During COVID-19
Due to COVID-19, two early-childhood centers put their competition aside to work together to support families during the pandemic.
Charles Dinofrio
7 min read
Early Childhood New Players Fill Child-Care Gap as Schools Go Remote
As school districts move to remote instruction for the fall, day-care providers, dance studios, and after-school programs step in to fill school-day child-care gaps.
7 min read
A student works on schoolwork earlier this month at the Wharton Dobson Club in Wharton, Texas, part of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Houston. For a small fee, the organization is offering a full-day program that provides students a safe place to complete their remote learning classwork and socialize with friends.
A student works on schoolwork earlier this month at the Wharton Dobson Club in Wharton, Texas, part of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Houston. For a small fee, the organization is offering a full-day program that provides students a safe place to complete their remote learning classwork and socialize with friends.
Courtesy of Boys and Girls Club of Greater Houston
Early Childhood Will Kindergartens Be Empty This Fall?
As cases of COVID-19 continue to grow, parents around the country are struggling with whether to send their child to kindergarten this fall. Some say they won't.
6 min read
Satiria Clayton was looking forward to her 5-year-old son Cassius starting kindergarten this year in Tempe, Ariz., but the recent spike in coronavirus cases has left her, like many other parents, worried about what to expect. "In an ideal would I would love to stay at home and teach him,” she said. “The reality is I have to send him to school."
Satiria Clayton was looking forward to her 5-year-old son Cassius starting kindergarten this year in Tempe, Ariz., but the recent spike in coronavirus cases has left her, like many other parents, worried about what to expect. "In an ideal would I would love to stay at home and teach him,” she said. “The reality is I have to send him to school."
Courtesy of Satiria Clayton
Early Childhood Letter to the Editor A Eulogy for Ken Goodman
To the Editor:
Several weeks ago, I spoke with an Education Week reporter about Ken Goodman in anticipation of an obituary about Ken’s passing and legacy (“Kenneth S. Goodman, ‘Founding Father’ of Whole Language, Dead at 92,” May 21, 2020). Great conversation. I looked forward to the tribute. I knew it would be complicated and controversial; Ken was complicated and controversial. But I was sure the controversy would be treated as part of the tribute.
1 min read