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The benefits of center-based care and full-day kindergarten for school attendance in the early grades

Background School absenteeism has been recognized as a growing issue in the United States, especially during the early elementary school years when it is most pervasive. Accordingly, there has been growing interest in understanding why children are absent and whether certain early educational experiences can reduce children's rates of school absences. Objective The objective of this investigation was to estimate the additive and multiplicative benefits of children's early school experiences in preschool (center-based care) and kindergarten (center-based care and full day kindergarten enrollment) for patterns of school absenteeism in kindergarten and first grade. Method To address these objectives, data were drawn from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Kindergarten Class of 2010-2011 and included 12,835 children and families. Results Children who attended center-based care in preschool and kindergarten had fewer missed school days and were less likely to be chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade. Children in full-day kindergarten programs had more absences by the end of kindergarten, but fewer absences by the end of the following year. No specific combination of early school arrangements was most beneficial. Instead, children who experienced more early educational arrangements were generally absent less frequently and these benefits were larger in first grade than in kindergarten. Conclusions When taken together, findings underscore the importance of formal early educational programs and opportunities on longer-term school attendance. (author abstract)
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Reports & Papers
United States

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