Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday, Aug. 2, signed HB2396, requiring each school board in Illinois to establish a kindergarten program with full-day attendance beginning with the 2027-2028 school year. Under this bill, every district must also establish a half-day program that is developmentally appropriate and provides opportunities for play-based learning.
According to the National Education Association, children in full-day classes show greater reading and mathematics achievements than those in half-day classes. Research also indicates that children’s early reading skills are enhanced with the additional instruction time provided by full-day kindergarten programs. Alongside academic gains, full-day kindergarten offers several social and emotional benefits to students.
Districts that currently do not offer a full-day program can apply for a waiver to extend the implementation date up to two years past the 2027-2028 school years if they meet certain criteria.
HB2396 also establishes the Full Day Kindergarten Task Force, which will conduct a statewide audit to inform the planning and implementation of full day kindergarten programs. The task force will study the current state of full-day kindergarten in Illinois, including district capacity to provide for full-day kindergarten in the districts that do not currently offer full-day and associated capital costs that may be needed for building expansion.
“Full-day kindergarten is an essential step towards getting young Illinoisans off to the best possible start in their education, which has long-lasting positive effects on reading, math, and social skills,” Pritzker said. “From Smart Start to school funding to early childhood, we’re investing heavily in our state’s youngest residents because we know that every investment we make now is paid back multiple times over by engaged and educated citizens.”