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Full-Day Kindergarten: A Review of the Evidence and Benefit-Cost Analysis

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Noa Kay, Annie Pennucci - January 2014

WSIPP updated its 2007 analysis of the research evidence regarding full-day kindergarten. Over half of Washington’s public school kindergarteners attend full-day programs, and the state is expanding funding for this option. In this report, we analyze average impacts on student outcomes from full-day kindergarten across the United States and elsewhere. We also examine whether benefits are likely to exceed costs.

To investigate, we conducted a systematic review of research by collecting all studies we could find on the topic. We screened for scientific rigor and only analyzed studies with strong research methods. We identified ten credible evaluations of full-day kindergarten’s cause-and-effect relationship with student test score outcomes. The studies estimate the relative impact of full-day in comparison with half-day programs.

Improvement in standardized test scores was the only outcome measured in the studies that we reviewed. Other outcomes of interest such as social and emotional learning and high school graduation have not been examined consistently in the research literature.

Report ID: 14-01-2202

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