Whether a child attends a half-day or full-day pre-K or kindergarten program, or a postsecondary student attends college part time or full time
Why it matters
As noted in the E-W System Conditions section of this report, access to and participation in full-day pre-K and kindergarten are associated with greater academic achievement for children. Full-day programs can also help mitigate logistical challenges for working families, improve children’s attendance in school, and increase mothers’ labor force participation.
At the postsecondary level, part-time college students often face greater challenges in completing their postsecondary credentials than students who attend full time. Data from the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) show that six-year degree completion rates for full-time students are approximately four times higher (84 percent) than for part-time students (21 percent) and nearly twice as high as for students who alternate between part-time and full-time enrollment (44 percent). In addition, to be eligible for the maximum award amounts for federal financial aid, students must be enrolled for 12 credit hours or the equivalent (that is, considered full-time students). The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) reports data by full-time and part-time status.
What to know about measurement
States and districts use different definitions to determine which pre-K and kindergarten programs are half day versus full day, so these labels are not always comparable. We recommend collecting information on the duration of programs and following the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), which defines full-day programs as being six hours per day each weekday.
Postsecondary institutions may also classify part-time and full-time students differently, though all must collect data on the number of credits students are taking because this information affects financial aid awards. We recommend using this information to consistently report on part-time and full-time status following IPEDS, which defines full-time students as those taking 12 or more semester credits, 12 or more quarter credits, or 24 or more clock hours a week in each term.
This disaggregate appeared in three source frameworks reviewed for this report: the California Cradle-to-Career Data System, the Institute for Higher Education Policy Postsecondary Metrics Framework, and the NSC Postsecondary Data Partnership.
The framework's recommendations are based on syntheses of existing research. Please see the framework report for a list of works cited.