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REL Midwest Ask A REL Response

Literacy

May 2019

Question:

What research is available on full-day kindergarten and student achievement in reading, particularly randomized control trials or quasi-experimental studies?



Response:

Following an established Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest protocol, we conducted a search for research reports on the relationship between full-day kindergarten and student achievement in reading. In particular, we focused on identifying randomized control trials or quasi-experimental studies that looked at outcomes in future grades. For details on the databases and sources, keywords, and selection criteria used to create this response, please see the Methods section at the end of this memo.

Below, we share a sampling of the publicly accessible resources on this topic. References are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. The search conducted is not comprehensive; other relevant references and resources may exist. For each reference, we provide an abstract, excerpt, or summary written by the study’s author or publisher. We have not evaluated the quality of these references, but provide them for your information only.

Research References

Cannon, J. S., Jacknowitz, A., & Painter, G. (2006). Is full better than half? Examining the longitudinal effects of full-day kindergarten attendance. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 25(2), 299–321. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ759360.

From the ERIC abstract: “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 others are considering it as a way to increase 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 who 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.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Cannon, J. S., Jacknowitz, A., & Painter, G. (2011). The effect of attending full-day kindergarten on English learner students. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 30(2), 287–309. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ917933.

From the ERIC abstract: “A significant and growing English learner (EL) population attends public schools in the United States. Evidence suggests they are at a disadvantage when entering school and their achievement lags behind non-EL students. Some educators have promoted full-day kindergarten programs as especially helpful for EL students. We take advantage of the large EL population and variation in full-day kindergarten implementation in the Los Angeles Unified School District to examine the impact of full-day kindergarten on academic achievement, retention, and English language fluency using difference-in-differences models. We do not find significant effects of full-day kindergarten on most academic outcomes and English fluency through second grade. However, we find that EL students attending full-day kindergarten were 5 percentage points less likely to be retained before second grade and there are differential effects for several outcomes by student and school characteristics.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Chang, M., Singh, K., Filer, K., & Sung, Y. Y. (2009). All-day kindergarten and cognitive outcomes of racial minority students in the US. Journal on Educational Psychology, 3(2), 33–43. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1097728.

From the ERIC abstract: “The study explored the longitudinal effects of all-day kindergarten program on the academic performance of students from diverse racial backgrounds and social class from kindergarten to the end of first grade. The study used three measures of reading and math scores from a nationally representative database of the USA, the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS). A series of longitudinal multilevel models with various specifications were estimated. The results indicated that all-day kindergarten students began with significantly higher reading scores compared with half-day kindergarten students but there was no significant difference in the growth pattern. Importantly, students from low SES families and Hispanic background displayed enhanced reading achievement in all-day kindergarten.”

Cooper, H., Batts Allen, A., Patall, E. A., & Dent, A. L. (2010). Effects of full-day kindergarten on academic achievement and social development. Review of Educational Research, 80(1), 34–70. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ879414.

From the ERIC abstract: “A meta-analysis found that attending full-day (or all-day) kindergarten had a positive association with academic achievement (compared to half-day kindergarten) equal to about one quarter standard deviation at the end of the kindergarten year. But the association disappeared by third grade. Reasons for this fade-out are discussed. Social development measures revealed mixed results. Evidence regarding child independence was inconclusive. Evidence was suggestive of a small positive association between full-day kindergarten and attendance and a more substantial positive association with the child’s self-confidence and ability to work and play with others. However, children may not have as positive an attitude toward school in full-day versus half-day kindergarten and may experience more behavior problems. In general, the research on full-day kindergarten would benefit from future studies that allow strong causal inferences and that include more nonacademic outcomes. The authors suggest that full-day kindergarten should be available to all children but not necessarily universally prescribed.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Gibbs, C. (2013). Reconciling experimental and quasi-experimental evidence on the impact of full-day kindergarten. Paper presented at the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness Conference, Washington, DC. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED564096

From the ERIC abstract: “This paper addresses the question of how to interpret evidence on the impact of full-day kindergarten resulting from different study designs, and provides guidance on how this evidence taken in tandem may inform the design and implementation of full-day kindergarten policies. Incorporating both experimental and quasi-experimental estimates on program impact, the study capitalizes on student assignment policies that allocated oversubscribed full-day kindergarten slots based on random lotteries and fixed cut-points on kindergarten readiness assessments, testing the causal impact on students’ literacy skills at the end of the kindergarten year. The study uses data from eight school districts across Indiana: five districts that employed lotteries to assign students to full- and half-day kindergarten settings, and three districts that assigned the most academically needy student—on the basis of a cutpoint on a kindergarten readiness pretest—to oversubscribed full-day kindergarten slots. The districts are diverse in geographic location, size, and student composition. The intervention was assignment to—and participation in—full-day kindergarten, but notably, the student assignment policies from which the research designs are established also affect student composition in the classroom. The two sub-studies included in this paper employ experimental and regression discontinuity designs respectively. Experimental findings suggest that students who are assigned to—and those who participate in— kindergarten in a full-day setting outperform their peers in half-day settings (0.31 standard deviations) in the same schools. In particular, findings reveal that nonwhite, predominately Hispanic students benefit (0.52 standard deviations) from full-day kindergarten in comparison to their half-day kindergarten peers. These heterogeneous treatment effects have implications for narrowing or closing the achievement gap early in formal schooling, and in fact constitutes 117 percent of the control group’s race/ethnicity gap. Results from the districts that employed fixed cut-points to assign the most academically needy students to full-day kindergarten is not consistent with the experimental estimates.”

Hahn, R. A., Rammohan, V., Truman, B. I., Milstein, B., Johnson, R. L., Muntañer, C., et al. (2014). Effects of full-day kindergarten on the long-term health prospects of children in low-income and racial/ethnic-minority populations: A community guide systematic review. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 46(3), 312–323. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749379713006491

From the abstract: “Children from low-income and minority families are often behind higher-income and majority children in language, cognitive, and social development even before they enter school. Because educational achievement has been shown to improve long-term health, addressing these delays may foster greater health equity. This systematic review assesses the extent to which full-day kindergarten (FDK), compared with half-day kindergarten (HDK), prepares children, particularly those from low-income and minority families, to succeed in primary and secondary school and improve lifelong health.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Lee, V. E., Burkam, D. T., Ready, D. D., Honigman, J., & Meisels, S. J. (2006). Full-day versus half-day kindergarten: In which program do children learn more? American Journal of Education, 112(2), 163–208. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ750264.

From the ERIC abstract: “Do children learn more in full-day kindergartens than half-day programs? If full-day kindergarten increases learning, are kindergartners in some schools particularly advantaged by their full-day experience? We address these questions with a nationally representative sample of over 8,000 kindergartners and 500 U.S. public schools that participated in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort. More than half of kindergartners experience full-day programs, which are most commonly available to less-advantaged children. Using multilevel (HLM) methods, we show that children who attend schools that offer full-day programs learn more in literacy and mathematics than their half-day counterparts. We also explore differential effectiveness in some school settings.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.”

Thompson, J. A., & Sonnenschein, S. (2016). Full-day kindergarten and children’s later reading: The role of early word reading. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 42, 58–70. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0193397315001069?via%3Dihub

From the abstract: “Full-day kindergarten is one means to improve the academic skills of children, particularly those at risk for academic difficulties. Full-day children generally earn higher end-of-kindergarten reading scores than those in half-day. Unfortunately, the benefit of full-day programs fades shortly after kindergarten. Research, however, has not considered whether the specific reading skills children attain in kindergarten help sustain the full-day kindergarten benefit. This study examined full- and half-day kindergarten children’s early word reading attainment (composite of letter knowledge, beginning sounds, ending sounds, and sight words) and its association with reading in elementary school. Full-day children were more likely to attain early word reading by the end of kindergarten which, in turn, predicted higher reading scores in first, third, and fifth grades. Early word reading attainment was associated with decreased SES–related reading gaps in elementary school.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Votruba-Drzal, E., Li-Grining, C. P., & Maldonado-Carreño, C. (2008). A developmental perspective on full-versus part-day kindergarten and children’s academic trajectories through fifth grade. Child Development, 79(4), 957–978. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ802177

From the ERIC abstract: “Children’s kindergarten experiences are increasingly taking place in full- versus part-day programs, yet important questions remain about whether there are significant and meaningful benefits to full-day kindergarten. Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study’s Kindergarten Cohort (N= 13,776), this study takes a developmental approach to examining associations between kindergarten program type and academic trajectories from kindergarten (ages 4-6 years) through 5th grade (ages 9-12 years). Full-day kindergarten was associated with greater growth of reading and math skills from fall until spring of kindergarten. Initial academic benefits diminished soon after kindergarten. The fade-out of the full-day advantage is in part explained by differences in the children who attend part- and full-day kindergarten as well as school characteristics.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Zvoch, K., Reynolds, R. E., & Parker, R. P. (2008). Full-day kindergarten and student literacy growth: Does a lengthened school day make a difference? Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 23(1), 94–107. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ783142

From the ERIC abstract: “In the context of a quasi-experimental research design, literacy data obtained on students were examined to assess relationships between kindergarten program model (full- vs. half-day) and student literacy outcomes. Application of multilevel modeling techniques to the time series data collected from kindergarteners in economically disadvantaged school contexts in a large southwestern school district revealed that students exposed to a full day of instruction had greater literacy growth than their peers in half-day classrooms. Further examination of the program model results revealed that the relative efficacy of full-day kindergarten tended to be greater in smaller class size environments. These results, if replicated, suggest that full-day kindergarten initiatives targeted toward students from disadvantaged backgrounds may be more successful when implemented in classrooms with relatively small student enrollments. Implications for instructional policy and practice are discussed.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Methods

Keywords and Search Strings

The following keywords and search strings were used to search the reference databases and other sources:

  • Kindergarten ‘full day’

  • RCT kindergarten ‘full day’

Databases and Search Engines

We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of more than 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Additionally, we searched IES and Google Scholar.

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When we were searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

  • Date of the publication: References and resources published over the last 15 years, from 2004 to present, were included in the search and review.

  • Search priorities of reference sources: Search priority is given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations.

  • Methodology: We used the following methodological priorities/considerations in the review and selection of the references: (a) study types—randomized control trials, quasi-experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, policy briefs, and so forth, generally in this order, (b) target population, samples (e.g., representativeness of the target population, sample size, volunteered or randomly selected), study duration, and so forth, and (c) limitations, generalizability of the findings and conclusions, and so forth.
This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by educational stakeholders in the Midwest Region (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL Midwest) at American Institutes for Research. This memorandum was prepared by REL Midwest under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-17-C-0007, administered by American Institutes for Research. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.