SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Recent data by the Utah State Board of Education shows the majority of kindergartners are taking advantage of full-day kindergarten options.

According to USBE, as of Oct. 1, 34,911 (or 77% of) Utah families with kindergartners have opted for full-day for their students, with only 23% of students enrolled in the half-day option.

Early Learning Coordinator Sara Wiebke said that it is exciting to see how many families now have the opportunity to choose half-day or full-day in almost every area of the state.

Full-day kindergarten has been one of USBE’s top priorities and was established by the passage of H.B. 477 in the most recent legislative session, according to USBE. Prior to H.B. 477, USBE said only 34% of Utah’s kindergarteners were enrolled in full-day or extended-day kindergarten, which was partially due to lack of opportunities for full-day kindergarten across the state.

USBE said the increase in full-day kindergarten enrollment has the potential to jumpstart academic success — studies have reportedly shown that students in full-day kindergarten are less likely to need academic intervention in later grades.

Additionally, USBE said students enrolled in full-day kindergarten tend to progress in math and reading at higher rates than their half-day peers. The extra hours reportedly allow for more time learning science, social studies, art, health, and physical education, to name a few.

On top of that, USBE said full-day kindergarten provides an opportunity to identify learning challenges early on. If a student is struggling with a specific skill or concept, USBE said a teacher has the time to provide extra support.

“We have seen a great demand for full-day kindergarten in Utah and we are glad that the state has invested in providing this option for Utah families,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sydnee Dickson.

According to USBE, in several districts including Grand, Emery, and Daggett, 100% of kindergarten students are participating in the full-day option.