Winnipeg School Division nixes all-day kindergarten pilot program

The Winnipeg School Division (WSD) is moving away from all-day kindergarten.

After years of looking at the pros and cons of full-day kindergarten, the city’s largest division now says it has decided to stick to providing half days to kids.

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That means full-day classes for kindergarten students at 11 Winnipeg schools that had been part of a pilot study will go back to half days at the start of the next school year.

“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,” said WSD’s superintendent of education, Celia Caetano-Gomes.

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“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.”

The division’s half-day kindergarten sees students go to class either in the morning or the afternoon for two-and-a-half hours.

Full-day kindergarten is three hours in the morning, with an hour lunch break followed by a two-and-a-half-hour afternoon session.

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The division’s pilot started at four schools in 2013 and had expanded to seven more schools by the start of the 2019-20 school year.

The study looked at students’ social and emotional development, grades, and math and writing skills.

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The report done by a third party released this week found full-day students were doing slightly better in Grade 1 compared with half-day students.

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However, researchers also found by the time they entered the second grade, students who took part in full-day schooling and part-day programming were performing at the same level.

“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 division said in a release.

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Students enrolled in full-time kindergarten this year won’t be impacted by the changes and will be able to continue doing so until school ends in June, the division said.

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Half-day kindergarten will instead be offered at all WSD elementary schools for the 2022-23 school year.

— with files from Corey Callaghan

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