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IES Grant

Title: An Experimental Design Evaluation of Full-Day Kindergarten
Center: NCER Year: 2005
Principal Investigator: Plucker, Jonathan Awardee: Indiana University
Program: Field Initiated Evaluations of Education Innovations      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (7/1/2005-6/30/2009) Award Amount: $802,421
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R305F050256

Structured Abstract

Purpose: Full-day kindergarten is being used increasingly as a strategy to address achievement gaps and promote early learning and school readiness. Nationally, full-day kindergarten programs are growing in number, and states are facing costly policy decisions related to the implementation of full-day kindergarten. The purpose of this project is to compare the academic results of full-day kindergarten with those of half-day kindergarten. At the end of the project, the results will show whether providing full-day kindergarten in two high-poverty schools improves academic performance and attendance rates and reduces special education referrals and grade retention, all considered predictors of later school success.

Setting: Four kindergarten classrooms in a Richard-Bean Blossom Community Corporation school, a rural, Title I district in southern Indiana; and four kindergarten classrooms in a Monroe County School Corporation school, an urban fringe of a midsize city, Title I school in southern Indiana.

Populations: 3 cohorts of kindergarten students and 7 kindergarten teachers.

Intervention: Full-day kindergarten students will attend school from 8:40 am to 3:15 pm. Full-day kindergarten is increasingly being used to address achievement gaps and promote early learning and school readiness as part of state education initiatives.

Research Design and Methods: The study is a randomized controlled trial with a lottery for three cohorts of kindergarten students. Each year, approximately 75 students across 2 schools will be randomly assigned to the full-day kindergarten program and 75 students are randomly assigned to half-day classes. Therefore, across the three kindergarten cohorts there will be 225 students in the treatment (full-day) group and 225 students in the control (half-day) group.

Control Condition: Half-day kindergarten students attend school either from 8:40 a.m.–11:35 a.m. or from 12:25 p.m.–3:15 p.m.

Key Measures: Treatment and control group students will be followed as they progress into the third grade to examine the long-term impact of full-day kindergarten on academic outcomes, attendance rates, special education referrals, and grade retention. Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM) in reading and mathematics will be used three times per year to assess student academic outcomes over time. CBM is a set of standard fluency measures of reading, spelling, written expression, and mathematics computation. Other measures will include the Iowa Test of Basic Skills at the end of kindergarten and district tests as appropriate. Administrative data on student attendance, special education placement and referral rates, and grade retention rates will be collected on an annual basis.

Data will also be collected on the ways in which time is used in the full-day and half-day programs, as well as the ways in which half-day kindergarten students spend their time when they are not in kindergarten.

Data Analytic Strategy: Both multivariate analyses of covariance and hierarchical linear modeling will be used to analyze the impact of full-day kindergarten on children’s outcomes. Growth curve modeling will be used to analyze the longitudinal data. Descriptive analyses will show how daily activities and instructional time differ in full-day and half-day kindergarten.