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WSD Full-Day Kindergarten pilot results

November 23, 2021 News Story
Kindergarten pilot results

The full-day Kindergarten pilot program at 11 schools in Winnipeg School Division (WSD) will be replaced with half-day programs starting in the fall of 2022. This ends WSD’s pilot program for full-day Kindergarten that started in 2013. Students enrolled in the 2021/2022 school year for full-day Kindergarten will not be affected by the change. 

The intent of the pilot was to identify any gaps in academic performance for students at an early age and provide an enriched environment where the students’ overall social, emotional, cognitive and physical development could benefit from such a program.

“We started the pilot program with four schools, basing that selection on highest socio-economic need, location, enrolment and space availability, and by 2019/2020, had expanded it to 11 schools to encompass all of the wards within the division,” said Celia Caetano-Gomes, Superintendent of Education. “The theory is that the longer school day of full-day Kindergarten would provide more time for play-based exploration, development of project and teacher-child interaction.” Half-day Kindergarten is offered at all WSD elementary schools either in the morning or the afternoon for two and a half hours. Full-day Kindergarten is three hours in the morning, an hour lunch break followed by a two-and-a-half-hour afternoon session.

“The pilot evaluated using several tools over a three-year period from when the children were in Kindergarten to the year they completed Grade 2,” said Caetano-Gomes. “We looked at report card data, social emotional development scale, strengths and difficulties questionnaire, WSD English (ELA) and Math assessments, student and family demographics and student attendance.”

Taking all of the evaluations into account, gains among full-day Kindergarten students early in the study showed reason for optimism that the additional time in school would benefit the students in their school careers. As the study continued, however, results indicated that those early gains were also achieved by the half-day Kindergarten group before the end of Grade 2 (year three of the study). In fact, the data did not show that the full-day Kindergarten program had any impact on academic performance in later years as there were no sustained growth improvements for full-day compared to half-day Kindergarten students.

“The WSD Board of Trustees has decided to end the pilot program, based on net outcome comparisons of academic performance in Grade 2 between full-day and half-day Kindergarten student groups,” concluded Caetano-Gomes. “What we can draw from this pilot project is that, overall, our early-years students are exceptionally resilient and gain the full measure of preparation for their future learning through the two-and-a-half hours a day of half-day Kindergarten.”

Caetano-Gomes said the division continues to explore opportunities that may contribute to students’ continuous learning outcomes.  

Schools offering full-day Kindergarten until June 2022 include: John M. King, Norquay, Strathcona, Wellington, Harrow, Fort Rouge, Earl Grey, Mulvey, Shaughnessy Park, Lord Selkirk and William Whyte schools.

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