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Ashland School District's youngest students are transitioning to full-day kindergarten next week, joining most districts in the state after the Legislature voted to pay for it in the interest of boosting student performance. More on that later. At the outset, Ashland appears to be doing it right, and the community is, as usual, stepping up to help out.

Last week — the first week of the three-week transition from half-day to full-day — students stayed at school long enough to eat lunch. This week they'll return to class after lunch and stay until 1:30 p.m.; next week, they stay until 2:50.

The gradual roll-out makes sense, although it may be as much for the teachers as the students — after all, it's all new to the students anyway.

Lawmakers decided to implement full-day kindergarten in the hope that it would improve student performance going into first grade and boost reading ability by the third-grade year. Studies show children who aren't reading well by that point struggle throughout their school years and are at greater risk of dropping out later. Critics of the full-day approach point to research saying any benefit tends to disappear by third grade.

Student scores on third-grade reading assessments will tell the story in four years. Until then, kindergartners get the socialization benefit of eating together and, in a very Ashland enhancement, they'll learn to ride a bicycle and a scooter, using bikes already donated by the community. To help out, donate a helmet; they're still short on those.