Gov. Newsom’s Claims on Benefits of Full-Time Kindergarten Rebuked by Studies

shocked-kid-apGov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed 2019-20 budget includes $750 million in new funding to help school districts shift from part-time to full-day kindergarten. Presently, 30 percent of districts only offer part-time kindergarten, as is allowed under state law, which provides such districts the same per-pupil funding as districts with full-day kindergarten.

In interviews, Newsom has depicted the shift and his other proposals to beef up early childhood education as the sort of obvious ways to improve public schools that are within reach because of the state’s improved fiscal health. Assembly Budget Committee Chair Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, told the San Francisco Chronicle that Democrats in the Legislature “absolute agree” that full-day kindergarten should be a state priority. Other education stakeholders, especially teachers unions, agree.

But as debate over Newsom’s proposal ramps up, advocates of full-day kindergarten will be asked to explain why claims about its effectiveness are not corroborated by the strong majority of academic studies of such programs in California and elsewhere.

A 2009 Public Policy Institute of California study found that while parents and educators are enthusiastic about full-day kindergarten, “research to date … has provided little evidence of long-term academic benefits beyond kindergarten or first grade.” This was backed up by a peer-reviewed 2012 study of some kindergartners’ results in California standardized tests.

The single study that appears to have been based on the most data – a RAND think tank analysis of the academic performance of nearly 8,000 kindergarten students in the 1998-99 school year – was even more downbeat. While RAND offered some qualifications, it said that overall, its research “reinforces the findings of earlier studies that suggest full-day kindergarten programs may not enhance achievement in the long term. Furthermore, this study raises the possibility that full-day kindergarten programs may actually be detrimental to mathematics performance and to nonacademic readiness skills.” The latter is a reference to students’ willingness to take instruction and participate constructively in class.

Duke study one of many to find initial benefits fade

These conclusions were supported by a peer-reviewed study released in 2010 by Duke University researchers. It found that initial benefits from attending full-day kindergarten “disappeared” by third grade and that “children may not have as positive an attitude toward school in full-day versus half-day kindergarten and may experience more behavior problems.”

However, on its website, the National Education Association depicts the benefits of full-day kindergarten as largely beyond challenge. An “advocacy guide” cites reporting by Deborah Viadero of Education Week showing that a study of 17,000 students in Philadelphia had found enduring gains from full-day kindergarten. But Viadero has also reported on other studies that reflect the phenomenon cited by other researchers of initial gains by kindergartners disappearing in subsequent years.

The NEA also cites research by the San Francisco-based WestEd advocacy group, in particular a 2005 policy brief that doesn’t refer to or offer counterarguments to any of the studies that raise doubts about whether the benefits of full-time kindergarten endure.

More recently, in 2014, the New America Foundation – which, like WestEd, has long called for greater investment in public schools – touted a study by Chloe R. Gibbs at the University of Virginia that the foundation called the “best research yet on the effects of full-day kindergarten.” New America said the study “holds some preliminary good news for proponents of full-day kindergarten.”

But the New America account of the study went on to note that it was too soon to conclude whether the initial gains identified by Gibbs would last – the central issue raised by most previous academic research.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog


  1. The Captive says

    Common’ full time pretending governor! Use that money to build something that SAVES WATER! This is just a starter—- save all our taxes to SAVE CA! Right now nothing useful is being done for the state. The whole state is in a state of MEGA CORRUPTION. !!

  2. So goes another Socialist day dream

  3. Boris Badenov says

    This goes along with the Common Core nonsense. I fear we are going to have kids that won’t be able to do a darn thing. My second grade granddaughter is struggling but they keep piling on math that is, IMHO better suited for 3rd Grade. Thank you Bill Gates

  4. well, full time would reduce child care cost for that half day and enable the school to feed the kids that correct foods they know best about and to have them watch indoctrination movies. It take the State to raise a child right. Oh, and lets outlaw home schooling too, those moms at home might not be feeding kids correctly, may allow them ride bikes outside (Unsafe!), or they might watch incorrect educational videos. AND just for clarity…I am AGAINST mandating full time kindergarten along with the schools providing breakfast lunch and dinner as in LA Unified.

  5. Wait, Wait! The demise of the pre-kindergarten indoctrination goes against the Socialist/Communist Agenda! Common sense starting to creep in?

  6. john hanebury says

    If we are so flush with cash, how about taking that $750K and using it on the wall between CA and Mexico in order to reduce the $25 billion/year that illegals cost us CA taxpayers.

  7. Tobacco tax funded First Five has been in operation for 20 years, plenty of time for data to corroborate the well-publicized First Five promises.

    Is the first cohort having started First Five 20 years ago, living up to the goals of this program? Audit First Five – you have total control over this program.

    Make Rob Reiner the honorary chairperson of this First Five audit project. As always, trust but verify.

  8. Can our nation survive two Willie Brown protogees at the same time: Gavin Newsom and Kamala Harris?

  9. The only outcome I see from 20 years of state tobacco tax-funded First Five pre-schools is the consistent #45 nationwide ranking of our K-12 schools.

  10. The only thing government seems to be able to do lately is to beclown itself. CA has gone from the Spacecase “Moonbeam”, to the Philandering Noisesome – a state on the downward spiral to failure.

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