Ohio State University study: Why four-year-olds don’t thrive in head start classes

11 Nov

One of the mantras of this blog is that education is a partnership between the student, parent(s) or guardian(s), teacher(s), and the school. All parts of the partnership must be involved. Many educators have long recognized that the impact of social class affects both education achievement and life chances after completion of education. There are two impacts from diversity; one is to broaden the life experience of the privileged and to raise the expectations of the disadvantaged. Social class matters in not only other societies, but this one as well. A few years back, the New York Times did a series about social class in America. That series is still relevant. Janny Scott and David Leonhardt’s overview, Shadowy Lines That Still Divide describes the challenges faced by schools trying to overcome the disparity in education. The complete series can be found at Class Matters

Teachers and administrators as well as many politicians if they are honest know that children arrive at school at various points on the ready to learn continuum. Teachers have to teach children at whatever point on the continuum the children are. Jay Matthews reports in the Washington Post article, Try parent visits, not parent takeovers of schools. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/try-parent-visits-not-parent-takeovers-of-schools/2012/05/30/gJQAlDDz2U_story.html

The key ingredient is parental involvement. The Wisconsin Council on Children and Families (Council) has a great policy brief on parental involvement.http://www.wccf.org/pdf/parentsaspartners_ece-series.pd

Science Daily reported in Study shows why four-year-olds don’t thrive in head start classes:

Most Head Start classrooms serve children of mixed ages and that hurts the academic growth of older children, a new national study suggests.

Researchers found that 4-year-olds in Head Start classrooms that included higher concentrations of 3-year-olds were up to five months behind in academic development compared with their peers in classrooms with fewer younger children.
That’s a problem because, as of 2009, about 75 percent of all Head Start classrooms were mixed-age. Head Start is a federal preschool program that promotes the school readiness of children in low-income families from age 3 to age 5.
“While there has been some enthusiasm for mixed-age classrooms, our results suggest there may be a significant downside for older children,” said Kelly Purtell, co-author of the study and assistant professor of human sciences at The Ohio State University.

“Four-year-olds are often enrolled in classrooms that are less supportive of their academic learning.”
The results may also help explain why a 2010 national evaluation of the Head Start program found that it was only modestly effective in helping the academic achievement of 4-year-olds.

“Mixed-age classrooms may be one reason that older children don’t seem to benefit as much from Head Start as do younger children,” said Arya Ansari, lead author of the study and a graduate student in human development and family sciences at the University of Texas at Austin….

The researchers used data from the Family and Child Experiences Survey, which is a nationally representative sample of 3- and 4-year-old Head Start attendees across 486 classrooms nationwide.

This study included 2,829 children who were tested in fall 2009 and spring 2010 to determine how much they progressed during that time on assessments of language and literary skills, math skills, social skills and behavior.

Findings showed that a higher proportion of 3-year-olds in the classroom was linked to lower gains in math and in language and literacy skills among 4-year-olds.

It didn’t take many 3-year-olds in the classroom to hurt the academic growth of the older children. Even when 3-year-olds composed just 20 percent of a class, the older children lost nearly two months of academic achievement in the school year.

But when the younger children made up nearly half the class, the 4-year-olds lost roughly four to five months of academic development….

There was no effect on social or behavioral skills for either age group in mixed-age classes.

This study didn’t look at why mixed-age classrooms hurt older children’s academic gains. But other research suggests two possibilities. One is that interacting with younger peers does not provide as much gain for older children as interacting with peers at the same or higher skill levels in math and language…. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151110094407.htm

Citation:

Study shows why four-year-olds don’t thrive in head start classes
Date: November 10, 2015

Source: Ohio State University

Summary:

Most Head Start classrooms serve children of mixed ages and that hurts the academic growth of older children, a new national study suggests.

Here is the press release from Ohio State University:

Study shows why 4-year-olds don’t thrive in Head Start classes

Mixed-age classrooms hurt academic progress of older children

By: Jeff Grabmeier

Published on November 10, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Most Head Start classrooms serve children of mixed ages and that hurts the academic growth of older children, a new national study suggests.

Researchers found that 4-year-olds in Head Start classrooms that included higher concentrations of 3-year-olds were up to five months behind in academic development compared with their peers in classrooms with fewer younger children.
That’s a problem because, as of 2009, about 75 percent of all Head Start classrooms were mixed-age. Head Start is a federal preschool program that promotes the school readiness of children in low-income families from age 3 to age 5.

“While there has been some enthusiasm for mixed-age classrooms, our results suggest there may be a significant downside for older children,” said Kelly Purtell, co-author of the study and assistant professor of human sciences at The Ohio State University.

“Four-year-olds are often enrolled in classrooms that are less supportive of their academic learning.”
The results may also help explain why a 2010 national evaluation of the Head Start program found that it was only modestly effective in helping the academic achievement of 4-year-olds.

“Mixed-age classrooms may be one reason that older children don’t seem to benefit as much from Head Start as do younger children,” said Arya Ansari, lead author of the study and a graduate student in human development and family sciences at the University of Texas at Austin.

Purtell and Ansari conducted the study with Elizabeth Gershoff, an associate professor at UT-Austin.
Their results appear online in the journal Psychological Science.

The researchers used data from the Family and Child Experiences Survey, which is a nationally representative sample of 3- and 4-year-old Head Start attendees across 486 classrooms nationwide.

This study included 2,829 children who were tested in fall 2009 and spring 2010 to determine how much they progressed during that time on assessments of language and literary skills, math skills, social skills and behavior.

Findings showed that a higher proportion of 3-year-olds in the classroom was linked to lower gains in math and in language and literacy skills among 4-year-olds.

It didn’t take many 3-year-olds in the classroom to hurt the academic growth of the older children. Even when 3-year-olds composed just 20 percent of a class, the older children lost nearly two months of academic achievement in the school year.

But when the younger children made up nearly half the class, the 4-year-olds lost roughly four to five months of academic development.

“Not only did we see limits in academic growth in 4-year-olds, but we also didn’t see any academic gains for 3-year-olds who were in these mixed-age classrooms,” Purtell said. “So there was no real benefit for the younger children.”
There was no effect on social or behavioral skills for either age group in mixed-age classes.

This study didn’t look at why mixed-age classrooms hurt older children’s academic gains. But other research suggests two possibilities. One is that interacting with younger peers does not provide as much gain for older children as interacting with peers at the same or higher skill levels in math and language.

Another is that teachers modify their classroom practices to accommodate a wider range of skill levels, which leads to older children hearing content they’ve already been exposed to and feeling disengaged.
It is likely that both factors play a role, Purtell said.

Ansari said that it may not be feasible for many Head Start programs to separate children by age.
“That means we need to figure out what teachers and programs can do to foster a more cognitively stimulating environment for the older children,” he said. https://news.osu.edu/news/2015/11/10/mixed-age-class/

Teachers and schools have been made TOTALLY responsible for the education outcome of the children, many of whom come to school not ready to learn and who reside in families that for a variety of reasons cannot support their education. All children are capable of learning, but a one-size-fits-all approach does not serve all children well. Different populations of children will require different strategies and some children will require remedial help, early intervention, and family support to achieve their education goals.

Richard D. Kahlenberg, , a senior fellow at The Century Foundation wrote the informative Washington Post article, How to attack the growing educational gap between rich and poor. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/how-to-attack-the-growing-educational-gap-between-rich-and-poor/2012/02/10/gIQArDOg4Q_blog.html

There is no magic bullet or “Holy Grail” in education. There is only what works to produce academic achievement in each population of children. That is why school choice is so important. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/02/11/3rd-world-america-money-changes-everything/
https://drwilda.com/2012/08/29/study-poverty-affects-education-attainment/

Related:

Tips for parent and teacher conferences
https://drwilda.com/2012/11/07/tips-for-parent-and-teacher-conferences/

Common Sense Media report: Media choices at home affect school performance
https://drwilda.com/2012/11/01/common-sense-media-report-media-choices-at-home-affect-school-performance/

Making time for family dinner
https://drwilda.com/2012/09/10/making-time-for-family-dinner/

Policy brief: The fiscal and educational benefits of universal universal preschool https://drwilda.com/2012/11/25/policy-brief-the-fiscal-and-educational-benefits-of-universal-universal-preschool/

Studies: Lack of support and early parenthood cause kids to dropout
https://drwilda.com/2012/11/19/studies-lack-of-support-and-early-parenthood-cause-kids-to-dropout/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

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Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©
http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©
http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©
https://drwilda.com/

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