New MEP Reports Explore First Year of MMSD’s Full-Day 4K

June 6, 2023   |   By WCER Communications

Two new reports from the Madison Education Partnership look at differences in the experience of students enrolled in full-day and half-day four-year-old kindergarten (4K) in the Madison Metropolitan School District during the 2021-2022 school year.

Researchers assessed 406 students, observed 16 classrooms, and interviewed 13 teachers across full- and half-day classrooms. The team estimated differences in student achievement gains, as well as qualitative differences in instruction, time use, and culturally responsive practices.

Researchers found no differences in growth in literacy, numeracy, and executive functioning, on average, between students enrolled in the full- and half-day programs, even after controlling for demographic differences across the two groups.

Although they expected to see larger gains in the full-day classrooms, researchers speculated that differences in teacher experience or how teachers implemented the full-day program may have limited the benefits of full-day 4K for the outcomes they measured. District learning and research experts are working closely with MEP to understand this result and are continuing to evaluate the program into the second year of its implementation.

Researchers did find twice as many culturally responsive practices in full-day 4K classrooms, and more community-building or collaborative activities. In both types of classrooms, teachers’ use of children’s home language was the most frequently observed culturally responsive practice. But such practices were mostly seen during non-instructional periods (meals, transitions) or to provide directives to children, rather than during instruction.

Additionally, the report found language and literacy activities were the most common instructional content across both types of classrooms.

Finally, teachers in full-day classrooms perceived more time for expansive, play-based, and hands-on activities. They also felt they got to know students and their families better in the full-day program.

You can peruse more findings and read recommendations for future work and reflection in the executive summary, the full learning gains report, and the full classroom pedagogy report. Report authors are Rebecca Bier, Rosie Miesner, Eric Grodsky, Beth Vaade, Culleen Witthuhn, and Grady Brown.