A new research summary of two UChicago Consortium on School Research studies shows that when more full-day pre-K programs were available to families, students were more likely to enroll in full-day programs, and student attendance rates increased.
Using pre-pandemic data (2013–2017), these studies used policy changes in Chicago to examine the relationship between half- vs. full-day pre-K and students’ attendance.
“As Chicago offered more full-day pre-K, students spent more time in school because of the longer school day, plus higher attendance rates,” said Stacy Ehrlich, lead author on the first study. “And because Chicago prioritized full-day expansion in neighborhoods where more Black, Latinx and lowest-income families lived, those families saw the biggest enrollment and attendance changes—a win for students, families and educational equity.”
These research findings are particularly notable given universal pre-K policy goals of President Biden and a number of governors and state legislators, coupled with the reality that pre-K enrollment has dropped during the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings also point to policies that better support juggling childcare, school and work—support that families with young children are clamoring for in the early days of 2022.