2008 July 15 Tuesday
Full Day Kindergarten Brings No Lasting Benefit

Yet another educational panacea gets discredited (except the results will be ignored).

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.

Blame poverty. That's the ticket. We'll always have people who have less money than other people. So poverty is always available as a handy excuse.

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.

The use of full day kindergartens will continue to grow because blacks and Hispanics are increasing percentages of the total population and they do more poorly in school than East Asians, whites, and south Asians. The desire to do something, anything to close the scholastic performance gap means longer school days, longer school years, more teaching assistants, more standardized tests, any all the other ways to spend more money that educational "reformers" can pretend will help.

The kids in part-day kindergartens did better. But how did the kids in part-day kindergartens from poor families do as compared to kids from equally poor families that attended full day kindergartens?

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.

But not all those kids in part-day kindergartens were from less poor homes. How'd the poor ones do?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2008 July 15 06:39 PM  Education


Comments
mike said at July 16, 2008 12:57 AM:

This tendency towards greater testing seems to growing in Britain and Australasia as well. Ironically it seems to be driven by the right (the liberal right that is) rather than the left.
The right's 'back to basics' campaign, to improve standards in the three R's, seems to have mutated into a bureaucratic assessment fest.
However, if lower IQ kids have less mental energy than high IQ kids, isn't giving them more tests and classes only going to make them want to leave school even earlier?

Big Bill said at July 16, 2008 4:45 AM:

"However, if lower IQ kids have less mental energy than high IQ kids, isn't giving them more tests and classes only going to make them want to leave school even earlier?"


I have no idea if you're right. However, give me a couple hundred thousand for some grad student stipends and we'll come up with some tests for them that should tell us if you are correct.

100 Miles & Running said at July 16, 2008 2:55 PM:

If only these looters had had some more kindergarten:

http://post-gazette.com/pg/08198/897247-100.stm

I blame poverty as well...

Randall Parker said at July 16, 2008 5:53 PM:

Mike,

The mandatory tests in high school tell poorly performing Hispanic kids in LA that there's no chance they'll pass the test they need to pass at the end if their final year in order to get a diploma. So they drop out (most would anyway). The bar for what a high school grad needs to know has been set high enough in some states that it certainly does contribute to the drop-out rate. Some kids still go the distance though and find out only at the end of their senior year that they aren't getting the diploma.

I think the educational system does these kids a disservice because it does not offer them an alternative route of training to learn things they can actually master that will help them in the job market.

100 Miles,

Power outages are a signal for mass civil disobedience among those less civilized. I do not think most liberals understand just how thoroughly dangerous the criminals are. Robert Downey Jr did jail time as a result of his drug abuse and he came out of jail no longer a liberal. It is a shame that more people can't come to an understanding of what he now knows.

100 Miles & Running said at July 16, 2008 7:49 PM:

"Power outages are a signal for mass civil disobedience among those less civilized. I do not think most liberals understand just how thoroughly dangerous the criminals are. Robert Downey Jr did jail time as a result of his drug abuse and he came out of jail no longer a liberal. It is a shame that more people can't come to an understanding of what he now knows."

Liberals don't know/don't want to know about how fucked up things are. Blacks are 1 welfare check, court case they don't like the verdict in or a natural disaster away from rioting. This was one little corner of Pittsburgh. And we all know what happened in LA, New Orleans and Cincinnati. I was laughing so hard when I read the story, I knew as soon as I saw the headline it was blacks. Whites had better arm themselves, what is coming won't be pretty. Now of course all the "role models" in the NBA are acting like the "gangstas" and ignorant Africans they are:

http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=ap-nflgangs&prov=ap&type=lgns

These people are never, ever going to change. What a disaster they are...

Stephen said at July 16, 2008 8:21 PM:

I can't understand why those slaver traders brought the blacks to America in the first place. No doubt the traders were liberals...

HellKaiserRyo said at July 16, 2008 10:54 PM:

On another note Randall, have you seen the math tests that are administered in those exit exams? It shows how pathetic this situation really is.


I wonder how much nootropics development has progressed.

z said at July 18, 2008 1:02 PM:

"There are none who are so blind as those WHO WILL NOT SEE"

I wonder where that quote came from? It kinda rings true doesn't it?


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