With an increased national focus on providing educational access for all students and creating pathways to support the long-term success of students, many states are considering or have already established full-day kindergarten programs. Funding full-day kindergarten is seen as a way to nurture and build upon gains made in pre-K programs. Currently, 13 states plus the District of Columbia require full-day kindergarten, but these programs look different in each state, with variances in funding structure and program definitions.

A new 50-State Review from Education Commission of the States, Full-Day Kindergarten: A look across the states, explores the different methods that states use to fund both full-day and half-day kindergarten and examines the spectrum of full-day kindergarten program requirements across the country.

“Providing a strong educational foundation in a child’s early years has been shown to increase the potential for positive learning outcomes throughout the remainder of their academic career,” said Bruce Atchison, director of the Early Learning Institute at Education Commission of the States.

“As states look to develop or restructure full-day kindergarten programs to strengthen student success, this report provides policymakers with an overview of current program requirements across the states,” adds Emily Parker, a policy analyst at Education Commission of the States.

Some key takeaways from this report:

  • In 13 states plus the District of Columbia, districts are required to offer full-day kindergarten.
  • In 27 states, the length of full-day kindergarten (whether it is required or optional) is equal to that of first grade length of day.
  • The definition of full-day, and the level at which the program is funded, varies considerably from state to state.

For questions, contact Education Commission of the States Communications Director Amy Skinner at askinner@ecs.org or (303) 299.3609.

Tweet this ECS report!

  • New @edcommission 50-State review looks at full-day kindergarten across the states: bit.ly/2cLWEiE #ece #earlyed
  • In 13 states & DC, districts are required to offer full-day kindergarten. More in new @edcommission 50-State review: bit.ly/2cLWEiE
  • Definition of full-day kindergarten & funding varies considerably from state to state. More from @edcommission bit.ly/2cLWEiE

Related ECS resources that you will find useful:

Computer Science in High School Graduation Requirements (April 2015)
This 50-State Comparison: K-3 Quality explores key state-level policies that impact the quality of K-3 programs. The Companion Report for this 50-State Comparison highlights significant research findings in key K-3 policy areas.

 PUBLISHED: September 20, 2016

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