Full-day kindergarteners' reading, math gains fade by 3rd grade

Jul 15, 2008

Children in full-day kindergarten have slightly better reading and math skills than children in part-day kindergarten, but these initial academic benefits diminish soon after the children leave kindergarten. This loss is due, in part, to issues related to poverty and the quality of children's home environments.

Those are the findings from a new study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Loyola University Chicago. Published in the July/August 2008 issue of the journal Child Development, the study sheds light on policy discussions as full-day kindergarten programs become increasingly common in the United States.

Using data on 13,776 children from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study—Kindergarten Class of 1998-1999, a study of a nationally representative group of kindergartners, the researchers measured children's academic achievement in math and reading in the fall and spring of their kindergarten and first-grade years, and in the spring of their third- and fifth-grade years. The researchers also looked at the type and extent of child care the children received outside of kindergarten, the quality of cognitive stimulation the children received at home, and the poverty level of the children's families.

Overall, the study found that the reading and math skills of children in full-day kindergarten grew faster from the fall to the spring of their kindergarten year, compared to the academic skills of children in part-day kindergarten.

However, the study also found that the full-day kindergarteners' gains in reading and math did not last far beyond the kindergarten year. In fact, from the spring of their kindergarten year through fifth grade, the academic skills of children in part-day kindergarten grew faster than those of children in full-day kindergarten, with the advantage of full-day versus part-day programs fading by the spring of third grade. The fade-out can be explained, in part, by the fact that the children in part-day kindergarten were less poor and had more stimulating home environments than those in full-day programs, according to the study.

"The results of this study suggest that the shift from part-day to full-day kindergarten programs occurring across the U.S. may have positive implications for students' learning trajectories in the short run," notes Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh and the study's lead author. "They also highlight that characteristics of children and their families play noteworthy roles in why the full-day advantages fade relatively quickly."

Source: Society for Research in Child Development

Explore further: Best of Last Week—Confirmed Earth-sized planet, testing twin paradox w/o a spaceship and news we all peak at 24

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Math modeling handbook now available

1 hour ago

Math comes in handy for answering questions about a variety of topics, from calculating the cost-effectiveness of fuel sources and determining the best regions to build high-speed rail to predicting the spread ...

Archaeologists, tribe clash over Native remains

1 hour ago

Archaeologists and Native Americans are clashing over Indian remains and artifacts that were excavated during a construction project in the San Francisco Bay Area, but then reburied at an undisclosed location.

Male-biased tweeting

3 hours ago

Today women take an active part in public life. Without a doubt, they also converse with other women. In fact, they even talk to each other about other things besides men. As banal as it sounds, this is far ...

Developing nations ride a motorcycle boom

5 hours ago

Asia's rapidly developing economies should prepare for a full-throttle increase in motorcycle numbers as average incomes increase, a new study from The Australian National University has found.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

sheber
not rated yet Jul 15, 2008
If they'd put air conditioning in the schools, maybe kids could go year round. The teachers could have a year round job. Parents wouldn't have to pay so much for full time day care.

More news stories

Male-biased tweeting

Today women take an active part in public life. Without a doubt, they also converse with other women. In fact, they even talk to each other about other things besides men. As banal as it sounds, this is far ...

Archaeologists, tribe clash over Native remains

Archaeologists and Native Americans are clashing over Indian remains and artifacts that were excavated during a construction project in the San Francisco Bay Area, but then reburied at an undisclosed location.

Math modeling handbook now available

Math comes in handy for answering questions about a variety of topics, from calculating the cost-effectiveness of fuel sources and determining the best regions to build high-speed rail to predicting the spread ...

Cyber buddy is better than 'no buddy'

A Michigan State University researcher is looking to give exercise enthusiasts the extra nudge they need during a workout, and her latest research shows that a cyber buddy can help.