This paper focuses on the structural elements of the kindergarten experience of American children and the new context of the Common Core standards. While a common set of high yet achievable goals, with appropriate supports to teachers and schools, can contribute to closing known achievement gaps at the start of school, differences in children’s access to and experiences of kindergarten may tend to widen, rather than reduce, these gaps. This paper considers how differences in the opportunity to learn through publicly funded kindergarten may affect the potential for children to reach a common set of standards across these differences. Specifically, this paper focuses on structural variations in the provision of kindergarten, including length of school day and age of entry, as well as variation in the preparation of kindergarten teachers.
This paper may be helpful for policy makers at school, district, and state levels when determining the structural components of their kindergarten programs. The paper highlights the potential strengths and weaknesses of various approaches, e.g., half or full day kinder. The paper is well researched and logically organized.