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Attendance and the Importance of Full-Day Kindergarten

Catalyst Chicago has an article on absenteeism in kindergarten through 3rd grade, in which reporter Rebecca Harris finds that more than a third of Chicago Public Schools' kindergartners missed 18 or more days of school in 2009-10.

In the piece, Veronica Thompson, principal of Revere Elementary, a low-income, predominantly African-America school, noted that kindergartners with the worst attendance are markedly less prepared when they enter 1st and 2nd grades.

Harris' article suggests that Chicago's prevalence of half-day kindergarten programs likely contributes to poor attendance. It's harder for parents to arrange pick-up and drop-off when a program only runs for three hours, especially for low-wage working parents who can't leave their jobs and come back.

According to the Children's Defense Fund, only 10 states currently require districts to provide full-day kindergarten and guarantee funding for it. The group notes that 40 states already have adopted Common Core State Standards and their rigorous expectations for kindergartners.

"Given the new standards and the instability of funding for [full-day kindergarten] across the country, children are not guaranteed an equal opportunity for learning and could be severely handicapped in achieving school success," the group says in a ">web-based policy brief.

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