Is Full Better than Half?

Examining the Longitudinal Effects of Full-day Kindergarten Attendance

by Jill S. Cannon, Alison Jacknowitz, Gary Painter

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Kindergarten policy varies widely both across and within states. Over the past decade, a number of states have instituted a full-day kindergarten requirement and a number of others are considering it as a way of increasing educational achievement. Many parents also support full-day kindergarten as a source of child care. This paper uses the Early Child Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Class of 1998-1999 to evaluate the efficacy of this policy. In ordinary least squares, probit, county fixed effects, and instrumental variables models, we find that there are initial benefits for students and the mothers of students that attend full-day kindergarten, but that these differences largely evaporate by third grade. Contrary to claims by some advocates, attending full-day kindergarten is found to have no additional benefit for students in families with income below the poverty threshold.

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