Key Questions

1. What changes occurred in attendance rates when students enrolled in full-day, rather than half-day, pre-k programs?


This research summary of two UChicago Consortium 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 (2013–17), these studies used policy changes in Chicago to examine the relationship between half- vs. full-day pre-k and students’ attendance.

Click below to view a 90-second episode of GO FIGURE, with Elaine Allensworth explaining Figure 2 of this research (October 31, 2023).

Key Findings

Study 1: District-wide, more CPS students enrolled in full-day pre-k programs from 2012–13 through 2015–16, while enrollment in half-day pre-k declined.

  • Full-day pre-k enrollment increases were especially large for Black students, whose enrollment more than quadrupled.
  • Attendance rates were higher in full-day than half-day pre-k programs.
  • CPS-wide pre-k attendance rates increased, driven by higher full-day attendance rates--particularly notable given that full-day student enrollment never reached more than 25 percent of total pre-k enrollment.

Study 2. After switching from half-day to full-day pre-k, attendance improved more in North Lawndale schools than CPS-wide, and were significantly higher than at similar schools.