Full-day kindergarten offers no long-term learning boost

by Le Templar
Goldwater Institute
A story last week in the Arizona Republic implied that the loss of state funding for full-day kindergarten will permanently hamper the education of schoolchildren. But this simply is not the case.

In 2005, the Goldwater Institute conducted a comprehensive review of education progress locally and across the country of students that enrolled in pre-school, half-day kindergarten and full-day kindergarten. This review of all available scientific research found that some full-day kindergarten students fared slightly better in reading, writing and math in the first grade, but this advantage fades rather quickly. By the end of third grade, students who had enrolled in full-day kindergarten performed no better in their classes than students who went to kindergarten for a half-day only (which Arizona is still funding). More recently, a study by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department released in January 2010 found that any benefits from Head Start pre-school classes disappear by the end of first grade. Simply put, all-day kindergarten, pre-school, and other early childhood education programs are not effective over time.

Many public schools have said they are going to provide full-day kindergarten despite the loss of state dollars, even if they have to charge families for the classes. The Legislature and Governor Jan Brewer wisely decided to focus on preventing the state from going bankrupt while letting local schools weigh the value of offering full-day kindergarten against other priorities that compete for limited tax dollars.

Le Templar is the communications director for the Goldwater Institute.


  1. I just love how Napolitano Republicans like Jim Waring voted for this new entitlement.

    Full-day Kindergarten is really just state-funded day care.

  2. Kindergarten is a fairly recent addition to the AMerican school system, but many people don’t know that, as they dump their kids into the even more recent pre-school, pre-k.

    Quite a number of the baby boomer generation started cold in first grade, their schools didn’t have K, and did just fine.
    It’s like this: at age 5 (kindergarten) it takes a year to do what can be done in half a year in 1st grade.
    In the old days, kids stayed with their parents all day – following the mother and father about as they worked. They could learn a few little tasks and be a bit helpful. Instead of being in a monotonous class of one age group, they encountered adults all day long in all sorts of venues and circumstances. So they entered 1st grade with more maturity, more poise and old enough to be able to pick up skills quickly.
    Now, from preschool-pre-K-to K, kids are grouped all day long in the same confined environment, boxed in, and with the same age groups – they are less versatile, less mature and less stimulated.
    It’s been too easy for parents to let the institutions do what they should be doing for their own children. No surprise too that children are being taught Progressive Left values. The parents aren’t in the loop – they took themselves out, then can’t understand what’s going wrong.

  3. Thanks for the fascinating read, it was actually just what I was after. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

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