CFED Assets & Opportunity Scorecard
Educational opportunities in the first years of a child’s life are crucial in closing the achievement gaps between children in lower and higher socioeconomic groups. Studies have shown that full-day kindergarten strengthens a child’s cognitive abilities, creative problem-solving skills and social capability. Children who attend full-day kindergarten have higher academic achievement in later grades; have better attendance in kindergarten and grade school; show faster gains on literacy and language measures; have enhanced social, emotional and behavior development; and have reduced retention and remediation rates.
Many states leave decisions about kindergarten to local districts. Others require their districts offer half- or full-day kindergarten. However, to reap the full benefits of early education, states can require all districts to offer full-day kindergarten.
Strength of State Policies: Full-Day Kindergarten
|Does state require districts to offer full-day kindergarten? 1|
|State||Full-day kindergarten required?||Requirement?|
|District of Columbia||Full Day|
|Nevada 2||Half Day|
|New Hampshire||Half Day|
|New Jersey 3||—|
|New Mexico||Half Day|
|North Carolina||Full Day|
|North Dakota||Half Day|
|Rhode Island||Half Day|
|South Carolina||Full Day|
|South Dakota||Half Day|
|Washington 4||Half Day|
|West Virginia||Full Day|
|Wyoming 5||Half Day|
Notes on the Data
1. "50 State Analysis: District Must Offer Kindergarten, March 2014," Education Commission of the States. Accessed July 2015. States receive credit if they require all districts to offer full-day kindergarten.
2. In certain Nevada school districts, the lowest performing schools with the highest numbers of limited English proficient students will start offering full-day kindergarten and free pre-kindergarten programs.
3. The Abbott District in New Jersey is required to offer Full-Day Kindergarten.
4. Full-Day kindergarten in Washington is being phased in beginning in the 2012-13 school year, beginning with the highest poverty schools. Statewide implementation will be achieved by 2017-18.
5. Wyoming statute requires one Full Day program per district.
How States Are Assessed
States receive credit if they require all districts to offer full-day kindergarten.
What States Have Done
Overall, 11 states and the District of Columbia require school districts to offer full-day kindergarten programs. Thirty-four states require school districts to offer only half-day kindergarten programs, with the option to offer full-day kindergarten. Five states do not require districts to offer kindergarten at all.