Thursday, January 18, 2007

Eddie and Leslie in Full-Day Kindergarten

From Ash:

Sunday's Minnesota Pioneer-Press (registration is probably required) had a nice concise piece on efforts in its state legislature to provide state-wide universal full-day kindergarten – which 29 states currently have.

A catalyst for this renewed effort is a recently released report by University of Minnesota's Center for Applied Research and Educational Development; the center studied one district that had implemented half-day, then full-day kindergarten.

In the study, the researchers found that full-day kindergarten significantly improved scores of first-graders – more than those who didn't attend, and more than those who went half-day, and even those who attended a combined week of half-day and full-day school.

The kids who attended kindergarten started out worse than the national mean score, but they ended up scoring above it.

And here's where it gets really interesting.

The achievement gaps between minority and white kids in full day kindergarten were almost eliminated. Gaps between schools with high recipients of free lunch and those schools with lower number of free lunch recipients (a commonly used placeholder for children's economic backgrounds) also largely disappeared. In fact, in some subjects, kids in the schools with free lunches actually improved more than the kids from the schools with families from better economic strata.

Gaps narrowed even between kids who were learning English and those native speakers!

Not only did the kids improve academically, the teachers thought that the children improved their social skills, the kids were more comfortable in a learning-environment, and they were even able to focus more. The parents saw behavioral changes as well. Those included more whining about going to school, but, oh, well, you can't win them all.

There's only one unfortunate fact about the report. The full-day day care only lasted a year. After that, it was cancelled due to a budget shortfall.


Blogger Debby said...

As a former full-day kindergarten teacher (17 years at the job) I can't say enough about the value of early childhood education and full-day kindergarten in particular. I realize I'm not the most objective person when it comes to this subject, but I've never understood the logic used by many among "the powers that be" when it comes to budget cuts. Early childhood programs are often the first to get the ax. Doesn't it make more sense to build on a strong foundation than to try and shore it up five or ten years up the road?

7:30 AM  
Anonymous patti said...

I know this was posted by Ash, but could you pass along a thank you to Po, please? I have been embroiled in the struggle of where to go now, and I came across his website. I read and read, then went and got a beer and read some more. It has given me strength, and I wanted him to know that he touched something in me that needed to be spoken to.

A appreciate the words...

3:32 PM  
Blogger Po Bronson said...

Thanks, Patti, I got your message the minute it was sent. It just took me a week to remember where it posted to come back and thank you.

3:07 PM  

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