As our Legislature and governor are about to raise taxes to historic levels in the name of better education let’s look at studies on whether moneys will be well spent.
Having sat on the E-12 Education Committee the past two years, we heard much testimony of how student achievement is closely associated with parental involvement. Proponents of all-day kindergarten say that studies overwhelmingly show a positive benefit of all day kindergarten. Yet, they largely ignore evidence — particularly two large studies — that found there is fade out of any benefits; a decrease in positive attitude towards school; and actual harm to math ability.
A 2010 government sponsored study concluded that, “attending full-day (or all-day) kindergarten had a positive association with academic achievement (compared to half-day kindergarten) equal to about one quarter standard deviation at the end of the kindergarten year. But the association disappeared by third grade. However, children may not have as positive an attitude toward school in full-day versus half-day kindergarten and may experience more behavior problems.” (1)
A 2006 Rand Study found that, “both academic and nonacademic school readiness skills at entry to kindergarten were significantly related to eventual reading and mathematics achievement in fifth grade.” It also found that, “attending a full-day kindergarten was unrelated to reading performance,” and “after controlling for nonacademic readiness at kindergarten, children who had attended a full-day program at kindergarten showed poorer mathematics performance in 5th grade than did children who had attended a part-day kindergarten program.” (2)
This finding raises the possibility that earlier studies may have failed to find relationships between full-day kindergarten and outcomes because they omitted important information relating to nonacademic dimensions of readiness.
So instead of considering all information and evaluating the costs and benefits we see the DFL in the Legislature go all in, head first, in more funding, which studies have found to have no to little impact on student achievement. More pre-school, more after school, more kindergarten — let’s have school take over responsibility for educating and raising our children.