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Most States Still Don’t Require Full-Day Kindergarten, Report Finds

July 10, 2018
Marva Hinton
Education Week

As more early-childhood education advocates call for universal pre-K, it’s interesting to note that less than third of all states even require full-day kindergarten.

That’s one of the findings in a 50-state comparison guide to policies surrounding kindergarten through 3rd grade by the Education Commission of the States, a nonprofit and nonpartisan group of researchers who track policies related to education.

The newly updated report, which was released last month, finds that that only 15 states and the District of Columbia require full-day kindergarten.

Commenting on the report, Karen Schulman, the child care and early learning research director for the National Women’s Law Center, an advocacy group based in Washington, noted that in many states and school districts, education policies don’t reflect the reality of both parents working in many families.

“Education policies also do not reflect that many children already attend a full-day preschool or full-day child-care program before they reach kindergarten, and that half-day kindergarten—rather than being a way to ease children into the school experience, as it was when kindergarten was typically children’s first experience in a setting outside the home—is actually a step backwards in some ways, including in the amount of time available for learning,” Schulman wrote in an email.

… Bruce Atchison, who oversees ECS’ reports concerning early learning, says he expects states to take a closer look at kindergarten in the future as more policymakers realize the good things happening in the preschool world should extend into kindergarten.

“You can have the highest quality pre-K program, and if that child goes into a low-quality kindergarten, there’s the potential that they’re going to lose some ground,” said Atchison.