Author: Lee, Valerie E., Burkham, David T., Ready, Douglas D., Honigman, Joann, & Meisels, Samuel J.

Title: Full-Day Versus Half-Day Kindergarten: In Which Program Do Children Learn More?

University Affiliation: University of Michigan, University of Oregon


Research Question:

  1. Do young children who attend public schools that offer full-day kindergarten programs learn more over the school year, in terms of achievement in the domains of literacy and mathematics, than their counterparts who attend schools with half-day programs?
  2. Are the learning benefits associated with enrollment in public schools offering full-day or half-day kindergarten different for schools of varying academic composition or in schools with different social compositions?

Published: Yes

Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation: American Journal of Education

Journal Entry: Vol. 112, No. 2, Pp. 163-208

Year: 2006


  1. Over the kindergarten year, girls learn slightly more than boys in literacy but not math; the same pattern occurs for Asians compared to Whites. Black children learn less than their White counterparts on both tests.
  2. Age is significantly related to learning in math but not literacy. Children who repeat kindergarten learn less than their first-time counterparts in both subjects.
  3. Student SES is positively but modestly associated with learning in both reading and math subjects.
  4. Children who attend schools that offer full-day kindergarten learn more in both literacy and math net of children’s social and academic backgrounds and of characteristics of their schools.
  5. The effect on learning of attending a school offering full-day kindergarten differs according to region of the country.
  6. The full-day advantage also varies depending upon the racial composition of the school. There is a consistent full-day kindergarten advantage in literacy learning for children in schools that enroll 50 percent or fewer minority students or in schools with minority enrollments over 75 percent.
  7. In schools enrolling 51-75 percent minority students, children learn the same amount whether in half-day or full-day kindergarten schools (due to the unusually high literacy performance of children in half day programs in such schools). In the full-day kindergarten mathematics learning is nearly double in schools that enroll 26-50 percent minority students, due to the unusually low mathematics performance of children in half-day schools with those racial compositions.
  8. These results highlight the learning advantages that accrue to children who attend kindergarten in schools that offer it on a full-day basis. The benefits associated with a full day of kindergarten are not confined to disadvantages children or to low-income or urban schools, all children benefit as far as learning more when they attend kindergarten on a full-day basis.

Scholarship Type Journal Article Empirical Research

Keywords: Academic Achievement, African American, Kindergarten, Math, Racial Composition, Reading

Regions National

Methodologies: Quantitative

Research Designs: Secondary Survey Data

Method of Analysis: Multilevel Models

Sampling Frame: Kindergarten Students

Sample Types: Nationally Representative

Unit of Analysis: School, Student

Data Types: Quantitative

Data Description: