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Issue Brief: All-day, every-day kindergarten

The problem

  • Numerous studies show that all-day, every-day kindergarten is effective in raising student achievement and closing achievement gaps. However, Minnesota only requires and funds half-day kindergarten. Our state falls into what the Children’s Defense Fund calls the “missing half step” in K-12 education.
  • As a result, only about half the state’s kindergartners currently receive free all-day, every-day kindergarten. An additional 17 percent participate in programs for which parents pay a fee for the extra half day.
  • Ten states and the District of Columbia require school districts to provide publicly funded all-day kindergarten. Minnesota children deserve the same opportunity if they are to meet the learning and workforce challenges of the 21st century.

The solution

  • Minnesota should fully fund free all-day, every-day kindergarten for all students. Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget proposal is a start toward this goal.
  • Studies show that students who attend all-day, every-day programs score higher than half-day students on a variety of standardized tests, and their higher performance can be tracked well beyond the first year.
    • Students in all-day programs show faster gains in literacy and language than half-day students, and they are better prepared for first grade.
    • They show better social, emotional and behavioral development, reduced retention and remediation rates and fewer referrals to special education.
    • By reducing the need for extra help in later years, all-day kindergarten reduces those costs for school districts and the state.
  • All-day, every-day kindergarten increases the amount of time teachers are able to spend meeting students’ individual needs and allows time for children to explore the arts, physical education, science and other activities beyond the basics.
  • A free universal program benefits all families. All children would have access to the same opportunities, regardless of financial circumstances. Families currently paying a fee for full-day kindergarten could save $2,000 to $3,000 a year. An all-day program could also save on day care costs while improving the quality of the time for students.
  • School districts that already offer free all-day, every-day kindergarten could use the additional state investment to expand their school-based early childhood programs.
    All-day, every-day kindergarten stands out as a win-win investment in student success.

For more information, contact:
Jan Alswager, chief lobbyist

Jodee Buhr, lobbyist

Education Minnesota is an affiliate of the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers and AFL-CIO.

Education Minnesota
41 Sherburne Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55103

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