Tag Archives: Kindergarten

American Educational Research Association study: Science achievement gaps begin by kindergarten

24 Feb

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 http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/15/us/class/shadowy-lines-that-still-divide.html    describes the challenges faced by schools trying to overcome the disparity in education. The complete series can be found at Social Class   http://www.nytimes.com/pages/national/class/index.html

Science Daily reported in Science achievement gaps begin by kindergarten:

Large science achievement gaps at the end of eighth grade between white and racial/ethnic minority children and between children from higher- and lower-income families are rooted in large yet modifiable general knowledge gaps already present by the time children enter kindergarten, according to new research published today in Educational Researcher, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association.

Analyzing data from the National Center for Education Statistics on over 7,750 children from kindergarten entry to the end of eighth grade, a team of researchers-Paul L. Morgan (Pennsylvania State University), George Farkas (University of California, Irvine), Marianne M. Hillemeier (Pennsylvania State University), and Steve Maczuga (Pennsylvania State University) — found that kindergarten children’s general knowledge about the world was the strongest predictor of their general knowledge in first grade, which in turn was the strongest predictor of their science achievement in third grade. Children’s science achievement gaps were then fairly stable from third through eighth grade.

Mathematics and reading achievement were associated with science achievement during third to eighth grades, suggesting that increasing math and reading skills for lower performing children may help to address science achievement gaps. The findings are consistent with prior research showing that the level of children’s achievement in reading or mathematics by kindergarten is strongly predictive of their achievement throughout elementary school, and that achievement gaps begin very early.

“If you enter kindergarten with very little knowledge about the natural and social world, you are likely to be struggling in science by third grade, and you are then likely to still be struggling in science by eighth grade,” said Paul L. Morgan, an associate professor of education policy studies at Pennsylvania State University.

Among children entering kindergarten with low levels of general knowledge, 62 percent and 54 percent were struggling in science in third and eighth grade, respectively.

General knowledge gaps between racial/ethnic minority and white children were already large at kindergarten entry. For example, 58 percent, 41 percent, and 52 percent of black, Hispanic, and American Indian children had general knowledge scores in the bottom 25 percent at kindergarten entry. The contrasting percentage for white children was only 15 percent. About 65 percent of low-income children entered kindergarten with low levels of general knowledge. Only 10 percent of high-income children did so….                                                                                                 https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160223132721.htm

Citation:

Science achievement gaps begin by kindergarten

Date:     February 23, 2016

Source:   American Educational Research Association

Summary:

Large science achievement gaps at the end of eighth grade between white and racial/ethnic minority children and between children from higher-and lower-income families are rooted in large yet modifiable general knowledge gaps already present by the time children enter kindergarten, according to new research.

Journal Reference:

  1. P. L. Morgan, G. Farkas, M. M. Hillemeier, S. Maczuga. Science Achievement Gaps Begin Very Early, Persist, and Are Largely Explained by Modifiable Factors. Educational Researcher, 2016; 45 (1): 18 DOI: 10.3102/0013189X16633182

Here is the press release from AERA:

 Science Achievement Gaps Begin by Kindergarten

For Immediate Release
February 23, 2016

Contact:
Tony Pals, tpals@aera.net
(202) 238-3235, (202) 288-9333 (cell)

Victoria Oms, voms@aera.net
(202) 238-3233

Science Achievement Gaps Begin by Kindergarten

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 23—Large science achievement gaps at the end of eighth grade between white and racial/ethnic minority children and between children from higher- and lower-income families are rooted in large yet modifiable general knowledge gaps already present by thetime children enter kindergarten, according to new research published today in Educational Researcher, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association.

Analyzing data from the National Center for Education Statistics on over 7,750 children from kindergarten entry to the end of eighth grade, a team of researchers—Paul L. Morgan (Pennsylvania State University), George Farkas (University of California, Irvine), Marianne M. Hillemeier (Pennsylvania State University), and Steve Maczuga (Pennsylvania State University)—found that kindergarten children’s general knowledge about the world was the strongest predictor of their general knowledge in first grade, which in turn was the strongest predictor of their science achievement in third grade. Children’s science achievement gaps were then fairly stable from third through eighth grade.

Mathematics and reading achievement were associated with science achievement during third to eighth grades, suggesting that increasing math and reading skills for lower performing children may help to address science achievement gaps. The findings are consistent with prior research showing that the level of children’s achievement in reading or mathematics by kindergarten is strongly predictive of their achievement throughout elementary school, and that achievement gaps begin very early.

“If you enter kindergarten with very little knowledge about the natural and social world, you are likely to be struggling in science by third grade, and you are then likely to still be struggling in science by eighth grade,” said Paul L. Morgan, an associate professor of education policy studies at Pennsylvania State University.

Among children entering kindergarten with low levels of general knowledge, 62 percent and 54 percent were struggling in science in third and eighth grade, respectively.

General knowledge gaps between racial/ethnic minority and white children were already large at kindergarten entry. For example, 58 percent, 41 percent, and 52 percent of black, Hispanic, and American Indian children had general knowledge scores in the bottom 25 percent at kindergarten entry. The contrasting percentage for white children was only 15 percent. About 65 percent of low-income children entered kindergarten with low levels of general knowledge. Only 10 percent of high-income children did so.

“We were dismayed by how early the gaps emerged,” said Morgan. “However, the gaps were also largely explained by modifiable factors, including those that can be addressed by policymakers. Our findings argue for the importance of intervening early, particularly for children who may be at risk because of fewer opportunities to informally learn about science prior to beginning elementary school.”

The researchers noted that children from traditionally marginalized groups have lower access to high-quality childcare and preschools, a circumstance that limits their learning opportunities prior to entering kindergarten. Income inequality and racial segregation in schools then perpetuate the disparities in learning opportunities and contribute to science achievement gaps throughout the elementary and middle grades.

“Science achievement gaps are themselves mostly explained by underlying inequities that we, as a society, too often tolerate or simply decide not to fully address,” Morgan said.

The findings suggest that, for the United States to retain its long-term scientific and economic competitiveness, policymakers should redouble efforts to ensure access to high-quality early learning experiences in childcare settings, preschools, and elementary schools, particularly for children who are at risk. According to a 2010 National Academies report, low levels of science achievement in the United States are no longer a “gathering storm” but now are “rapidly approaching a Category 5” in their potential to derail the nation’s long-term global competitiveness. Waiting to address science achievement gaps by middle or high school may be waiting too late.

At the family level, Morgan said that regularly talking and interacting with very young children, pointing out and conversing about physical, natural, and social events that are occurring around them, and supportively extending their general knowledge about the world may be ways that parents can help their children learn the facts and concepts that will prepare them to take full advantage of the science instruction they receive during elementary and middle school.

To read the full study, click HERE. To speak with study author Paul L. Morgan, please contact Tony Pals at tpals@aera.net or Victoria Oms at voms@aera.net.

Funding Note
Funding for this study was provided by the National Center for Special Education Research, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

About AERA
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is the largest national interdisciplinary research association devoted to the scientific study of education and learning. Founded in 1916, AERA advances knowledge about education, encourages scholarly inquiry related to education, and promotes the use of research to improve education and serve the public good. Find AERA on Facebook and Twitter.

People tend to cluster in neighborhoods based upon class as much as race. Good teachers tend to gravitate toward neighborhoods where they are paid well and students come from families who mirror their personal backgrounds and values. Good teachers make a difference in a child’s life. One of the difficulties in busing to achieve equity in education is that neighborhoods tend to be segregated by class as well as race. People often make sacrifices to move into neighborhoods they perceive mirror their values. That is why there must be good schools in all segments of the country and there must be good schools in all parts of this society. A good education should not depend upon one’s class or status.

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University of Chicago study: Kindergarteners are not challenged in math

5 Apr

There is a battle brewing regarding whether kindergarten should be more challenging. Moi posted in University of Virginia research: Kindergarten is the new first grade:
Children are not “mini mes” or short adults. They are children and they should have time to play, to dream, and to use their imagination. Alison Gopnik has an excellent article in Slate which reports about the results of two new studies, Why Preschool Shouldn’t Be Like School:

In the first study, MIT professor Laura Schulz, her graduate student Elizabeth Bonawitz, and their colleagues looked at how 4-year-olds learned about a new toy with four tubes. Each tube could do something interesting: If you pulled on one tube it squeaked, if you looked inside another tube you found a hidden mirror, and so on. For one group of children, the experimenter said: “I just found this toy!” As she brought out the toy, she pulled the first tube, as if by accident, and it squeaked. She acted surprised (“Huh! Did you see that? Let me try to do that!”) and pulled the tube again to make it squeak a second time. With the other children, the experimenter acted more like a teacher. She said, “I’m going to show you how my toy works. Watch this!” and deliberately made the tube squeak. Then she left both groups of children alone to play with the toy. …
As so often happens in science, two studies from different labs, using different techniques, have simultaneously produced strikingly similar results. They provide scientific support for the intuitions many teachers have had all along: Direct instruction really can limit young children’s learning. Teaching is a very effective way to get children to learn something specific—this tube squeaks, say, or a squish then a press then a pull causes the music to play. But it also makes children less likely to discover unexpected information and to draw unexpected conclusions….
These experts in machine learning argue that learning from teachers first requires you to learn about teachers. For example, if you know how teachers work, you tend to assume that they are trying to be informative. When the teacher in the tube-toy experiment doesn’t go looking for hidden features inside the tubes, the learner unconsciously thinks: “She’s a teacher. If there were something interesting in there, she would have showed it to me.” These assumptions lead children to narrow in, and to consider just the specific information a teacher provides. Without a teacher present, children look for a much wider range of information and consider a greater range of options.
Knowing what to expect from a teacher is a really good thing, of course: It lets you get the right answers more quickly than you would otherwise. Indeed, these studies show that 4-year-olds understand how teaching works and can learn from teachers. But there is an intrinsic trade-off between that kind of learning and the more wide-ranging learning that is so natural for young children. Knowing this, it’s more important than ever to give children’s remarkable, spontaneous learning abilities free rein. That means a rich, stable, and safe world, with affectionate and supportive grown-ups, and lots of opportunities for exploration and play. Not school for babies. http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2011/03/why_preschool_shouldnt_be_like_school.html

In the rush to produce baby Einsteins and child prodigies, perhaps we are missing the creativity that play activities by preschoolers produces.
https://drwilda.com/2014/02/03/university-of-virginia-research-kindergarten-is-the-new-first-grade/
Admittedly, these studies deal with preschool. Still, there is a rush to require more and more structured learning earlier.

Annie Murphy Paul reported in the New York Times article, Research on Children and Math: Underestimated and Unchallenged:

We hear a lot about how American students lag behind their international peers academically, especially in subjects like math. In the most recent Program for International Student Assessment, commonly known as PISA, students in the United States ranked 26th out of 34 countries in mathematics. On the surface, it would seem that we’re a nation of math dullards; simply no good at the subject. But a spate of new research suggests that we may be underestimating our students, especially the youngest ones, in terms of their ability to think about numbers.
A study published in the April issue of the American Educational Research Journal, for example, finds that kindergarten students learn more when they are exposed to challenging content such as advanced number concepts and even addition and subtraction. In turn, elementary school students who were taught more sophisticated math as kindergarteners made bigger gains in mathematics, reported the study’s lead author, Amy Claessens of the University of Chicago.
Another study, published last year by Dr. Claessens with co-authors Mimi Engel and Maida Finch, concluded that as things stand, many children in kindergarten are being taught information they already know. The “vast majority” of kindergarteners have already mastered counting numbers and recognizing shapes before they set foot in the classroom, Dr. Claessens and her co-authors noted, yet kindergarten teachers report spending much of their math teaching time on these skills.
The students don’t gain anything from going over familiar ground: In the article published this month, Dr. Claessens and her colleagues report that pupils do not benefit from basic content coverage, but that all the kindergarteners in the study, regardless of economic background or initial skill level, did benefit from exposure to more advanced content….
Young students are ready to learn more advanced math concepts, as long as they are presented in an engaging, developmentally appropriate way. The next time we lament the performance of older American students, we could think instead about how to improve the math instruction given to their younger brothers and sisters. http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/03/research-on-children-and-math-underestimated-and-unchallenged/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

See, Study Finds That Kindergarten is Too Easy
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2014/02/kindergarten_is_too_easy.html

Citation:

A more recent version of this article was published on [04-02-2014]
Academic Content, Student Learning, and the Persistence of Preschool Effects
1. Amy Claessens
1. University of Chicago
1. Mimi Engel
2. F. Chris Curran
1. Vanderbilt University
Abstract
Little research has examined the relationship between academic content coverage in kindergarten and student achievement. Using nationally representative data, we examine the association between reading and mathematics content coverage in kindergarten and student learning, both overall and for students who attended preschool, Head Start, or participated in other child care prior to kindergarten entry. We find that all children benefit from exposure to advanced content in reading and mathematics and that students do not benefit from basic content coverage. Interestingly, this is true regardless of whether they attended preschool, began kindergarten with more advanced skills, or are from families with low income. Policy implications are discussed.
academic content
student achievement
kindergarten
preschool
Article Notes
Received November 12, 2012.
Revision received August 20, 2013.
Accepted October 13, 2013.

Here is the press release from the University of Chicago:

More challenging content in kindergarten boosts later performance
By Wen Huang
MARCH 17, 2014
Children of all economic backgrounds could score bigger gains in math and reading if teachers introduced more advanced content in kindergarten, according to a new study from the Harris School of Public Policy Studies.
When kindergarten teachers neglect advanced content, children tend to stagnate in reading performance later in elementary school, said study co-author Amy Claessens, assistant professor of public policy at Chicago Harris. Those students also gain less in mathematics than students whose kindergarten experience included more advanced content.
According to Claessens, “basic content” is defined as skills that more than half of the children entering kindergarten have mastered. If the majority of children have not yet grasped it, the content is considered to be advanced.
“There have been many studies of the effects of full-day kindergarten and reduced class size on student learning during kindergarten,” Claessens said. “But we know relatively little about the role of content coverage during the kindergarten years.”
Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study–Kindergarten Cohort, a nationally representative sample of kindergarteners, Claessens and her co-authors, Mimi Engel and Chris Curran from Vanderbilt University, examined the reading and math content covered in kindergarten classrooms and how they relate to later changes in children’s academic achievement.
The authors also looked at whether exposure to advanced content in reading and mathematics would enable kindergarten children to maintain and extend the advantages acquired from attending preschool programs.
The results indicate that adding four more days per month on advanced topics in reading or mathematics is associated with moderate increases of test score gains.
Claessens believes changing content coverage is a potentially easy and low-cost means to improve student achievement in kindergarten and beyond, especially compared with options such as lengthening the school day or reducing class size.
“At a time when education programs are facing budget constraints, this is a more viable option,” Claessens said. “Teachers could increase their time on advanced content while reducing time on basic content, without the need to increase overall instructional time, and do so in a developmentally appropriate way for young kids.”
The paper, “Academic Content, Student Learning, and the Persistence of Preschool Effects,” was published in the American Educational Research Journal.
Tags
Amy Claessens, Chicago Harris, Early childhood, early education, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, kindergarten
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Wen Huang
News Officer for Law, Policy and Economics
News Office, University Communications
wenh@uchicago.edu
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– See more at: http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2014/03/17/more-challenging-content-kindergarten-boosts-
later-performance#sthash.zREtMpST.dpuf

Claudio Sanchez of NPR reported in the story, What The U.S. Can Learn From Finland, Where School Starts At Age 7:

Finland, a country the size of Minnesota, beats the U.S. in math, reading and science, even though Finnish children don’t start school until age 7.
Despite the late start, the vast majority arrive with solid reading and math skills. By age 15, Finnish students outperform all but a few countries on international assessments…. http://www.npr.org/2014/03/08/287255411/what-the-u-s-can-learn-from-finland-where-school-starts-at-age-7

We must not so over-schedule children that they have no time to play and to dream.

Related:

‘Redshirting’ kindergarteners
https://drwilda.com/tag/redshirting-holding-kids-back-from-kindergarten/

The state of preschool education is dire
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/the-state-of-preschool-education-is-dire/

The ‘whole child’ approach to education
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/the-whole-child-approach-to-education/

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

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

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

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

Dr. Wilda ©
http://drwilda.com

University of Virginia research: Kindergarten is the new first grade

3 Feb

Children are not “mini mes” or short adults. They are children and they should have time to play, to dream, and to use their imagination. Alison Gopnik has an excellent article in Slate which reports about the results of two new studies, Why Preschool Shouldn’t Be Like School:

In the first study, MIT professor Laura Schulz, her graduate student Elizabeth Bonawitz, and their colleagues looked at how 4-year-olds learned about a new toy with four tubes. Each tube could do something interesting: If you pulled on one tube it squeaked, if you looked inside another tube you found a hidden mirror, and so on. For one group of children, the experimenter said: “I just found this toy!” As she brought out the toy, she pulled the first tube, as if by accident, and it squeaked. She acted surprised (“Huh! Did you see that? Let me try to do that!”) and pulled the tube again to make it squeak a second time. With the other children, the experimenter acted more like a teacher. She said, “I’m going to show you how my toy works. Watch this!” and deliberately made the tube squeak. Then she left both groups of children alone to play with the toy. …
As so often happens in science, two studies from different labs, using different techniques, have simultaneously produced strikingly similar results. They provide scientific support for the intuitions many teachers have had all along: Direct instruction really can limit young children’s learning. Teaching is a very effective way to get children to learn something specific—this tube squeaks, say, or a squish then a press then a pull causes the music to play. But it also makes children less likely to discover unexpected information and to draw unexpected conclusions….
These experts in machine learning argue that learning from teachers first requires you to learn about teachers. For example, if you know how teachers work, you tend to assume that they are trying to be informative. When the teacher in the tube-toy experiment doesn’t go looking for hidden features inside the tubes, the learner unconsciously thinks: “She’s a teacher. If there were something interesting in there, she would have showed it to me.” These assumptions lead children to narrow in, and to consider just the specific information a teacher provides. Without a teacher present, children look for a much wider range of information and consider a greater range of options.
Knowing what to expect from a teacher is a really good thing, of course: It lets you get the right answers more quickly than you would otherwise. Indeed, these studies show that 4-year-olds understand how teaching works and can learn from teachers. But there is an intrinsic trade-off between that kind of learning and the more wide-ranging learning that is so natural for young children. Knowing this, it’s more important than ever to give children’s remarkable, spontaneous learning abilities free rein. That means a rich, stable, and safe world, with affectionate and supportive grown-ups, and lots of opportunities for exploration and play. Not school for babies. http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2011/03/why_preschool_shouldnt_be_like_school.html

In the rush to produce baby Einsteins and child prodigies, perhaps we are missing the creativity that play activities by preschoolers produces.

Sarah D. Sparks reported in the Education Week article, Is Kindergarten the New First Grade? Researchers Say Yes:

The days when kindergarten focused on playing and finger painting may be waning, as early-learning classrooms devote significantly more attention to preparing students to read, according to a new University of Virginia study.
From 1998 to 2006, kindergarten teachers reported devoting 25 percent more time to teaching early literacy, from 5.5 hours to seven hours per week, according to the working paper by Daphna Bassok, an assistant professor at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education and Anna Rorem, a policy associate at the university’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.
The researchers analyzed changes over time in teacher expectations, curriculum, and students’ time on task using data from the federal Early Childhood Longitudinal Study.
Though the overall time for kindergarten has increased since the late 1990s, with 75 percent of kindergartners now attending full-day classes—up from 56 percent in 1998—the researchers found that time devoted to mathematics flatlined and time for all other non-literacy subjects decreased: Kindergartners today now spend as much time on reading and language arts as they do on mathematics, science, social studies, music, and art combined.Time for the last four subjects dropped by 30 minutes per week for each of those subjects except for math.The percentage of teachers who reported their students never received physical education more than tripled, from 14 percent to 45 percent (and as the mother of a young son, I don’t even want to think about a class of 5-year-olds who don’t get their wriggles worn out regularly).

This change in curriiculum is particularly interesting considering that these data sets counted an integrated activity—say, a science experiment that included reading—for both subjects. So why the focus on reading to the exclusion of other topics?
Other findings suggest federal, state, and district accountabilty pressures and state initiatives to “read on grade level by 3rd grade” may have narrowed the focus. Bassok and Rorem found that the number of early-education teachers who believe students should begin learning to read in kindergarten more than doubled from 1998 to 2006, from 31 percent in 1998 to 65 percent in 2006. The teachers also became more likely to teach spelling and use standardized assessments in kindergarten, they found.
What I find telling is that, while kindergarten teachers became more and more likely to consider academic skills like knowing the alphabet, colors, and shapes vital for students to learn in the earliest grades, they still rated them as less crucial than skills associated with self-regulation—following directions, sitting still, and completing tasks, for example. As the entry point to school, kindergarten is still the place where children are learning to raise their hands and color inside the lines. Yet as more students attend preschool at ages 2, 3, and 4, academic expectations for kindergarten may continue to rise, increasing the potential for school-readiness gaps at ever younger ages….
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2014/01/is_kindergarten_the_new_first.html?intc=es

Here is the press release from the University of Virginia:

U.Va. Researchers Find that Kindergarten Is the New First Grade
January 29, 2014
Audrey Breen
Kindergarten classrooms nationwide have changed dramatically since the late 1990s and nearly all of these changes are in the direction of a heightened focus on academics, particularly literacy, according to researchers from EdPolicyWorks, the center on education policy and workforce competitiveness at the University of Virginia.
In a working paper titled “Is Kindergarten the New First Grade? The Changing Nature of Kindergarten in the Age of Accountability,” U.Va. researchers Daphna Bassok and Anna Rorem posit that increased emphasis on accountability led to meaningful changes in the kindergartener experience.
“In less than a decade we’ve seen the kindergarten experience essentially transformed,” said Bassok, assistant professor at the Curry School of Education. “Academic skill-building has really taken center stage in today’s kindergarten classrooms, in a way that just wasn’t the case” before the late 1990s.
The study by Bassok and Rorem, a policy associate at U.Va.’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service,, uses two large nationally representative datasets to track changes in kindergarten classrooms between 1998 and 2006. It shows that in 1998, 31 percent of kindergarten teachers indicated that most children should learn to read while in kindergarten. By 2006, 65 percent of teachers agreed with this statement. To accommodate this new reality, classroom time spent on literacy rose by 25 percent, from roughly 5.5 to seven hours per week.
Bassok said that, done correctly, this increased focus on academics could be helpful. “Young children are curious, enthusiastic learners, with immense potential. There are ways to teach early literacy and math content to young learners so that it’s engaging, fun and really helps them get a head start.”
But the increased emphasis on literacy may have a cost. As teachers spend more time and attention on academic content, time centered on play, exploration and social interactions may drop.
“It certainly doesn’t have to be an ‘either/or’ scenario, where academics crowd out everything else,” Bassok said, “but I worry that in practice, this is what is happening in many classrooms.”
Over the last decade, both media and research accounts have suggested that kindergarten classrooms were increasingly characterized by mounting homework demands, worksheets, pressure to learn to read as early as possible, and heightened levels of stress. Bassok’s and Rorem’s study is [db1] the first that provides nationally representative empirical evidence about the actual changes.
“We went into this project expecting to see some change over time,” Bassok said. “What was surprising to us was to see substantial changes in the kindergarten experience along essentially every dimension. And the magnitude of these changes was striking.”
The study focused on four dimensions: Teacher beliefs about school readiness and kindergarten learning, how teachers used their time during daily activities, what specific curricular content was covered and kindergarten teachers’ views about assessments.
Teachers’ expectations for their kindergarten students escalated rapidly. Between 1998 and 2006, the percentage of teachers who indicated that incoming kindergarteners need to know most of the letters or count to 20 doubled. Teachers also increasingly believe that children who begin formal reading and math instruction before kindergarten will do better in elementary school.
Over the time period analyzed in the study, teachers reported spending 25 percent more time on reading and language arts. Time spent on all other subjects decreased.
“We saw meaningful drops in time spent on physical education, art, music, science and social studies, which was really striking given that far more children now attend full-day kindergarten so, at least in theory, there should be more time available for all sorts of learning experiences,” Bassok said.
In fact, the data show that kindergarteners in 2006 spent as much time on reading and language arts as they did on mathematics, science, social studies, music and art combined. The number of kindergarten teachers who reported their students never have physical education also doubled over this period[P2] .
Physical activity and play are particularly important for kindergarten students, Rorem said.
“Playtime has been part of the kindergarten classroom since its beginnings,” Rorem said. “In fact, Freidrich Froebel, who helped make kindergarten popular in the United States, is said to have thought of play as ‘highly serious.’ Today, some research suggests that time for play and physical activity is beneficial for kids not only in its own right, but also as it helps them ’reset’ their attention spans.”
Bassok and Rorem reviewed teachers’ responses to 15 specific curricular elements of English language arts skills. The percentage of teachers reporting they taught a particular literacy skill every day went up for all 15 items considered.
Teachers were also asked specifically about language arts skills that in 1998 were considered “advanced” and taught in a later grade, such as composing and writing complete sentences, conventionally spelling and composing and writing stories with an understandable beginning, middle and end. By 2006, teaching each of these skills in kindergarten was much more commonplace. For example, in 1998, 45 percent of teachers said they never taught students “conventional spelling” because it was an advanced concept taught in later grades; this figure fell to 13 percent in the later period. The percentage who said they taught conventional spelling every day doubled from 18 percent to 36 percent.
The final dimension was how teachers’ views about assessment have changed over time. In the study, the researchers found that teachers who considered a child’s achievement relative to local, state or professional standards “very important” or “essential” rose from 57 percent to 76 percent.
Strikingly, kindergarten teachers in 2006 reported using standardized tests in their classrooms far more than even first-grade teachers did in the pre-accountability years. While a quarter of kindergarten teachers in 2006 reported using standardized tests at least once a month, in 1999, only 11 percent of first-grade teachers used these tests so often.
Kindergarten classrooms, at least traditionally, have included much broader goals beyond teaching reading and math skills, according to Bassok. Children were learning how to share and navigate friendships, how to cooperate but also how to be confident and self-sufficient.
“We know that these early social skills are important predictors of students’ learning trajectories,” Bassok said. “So our worry is that if done inappropriately, the focus on academics may have really pushed these other kind of learning opportunities aside.”
Bassok, who is currently studying the possible drivers for these shifts, believes that one key candidate is the introduction of No Child Left Behind, which was signed into law in 2002.
“Since the introduction of NCLB, there has been a greater focus on high-stakes assessments in literacy and math,” Bassok said. “There are many anecdotal accounts of a ‘trickling down’ of intense accountability pressures from the tested grades – beginning in grade three – down to lower elementary grades, including kindergarten and even preschool.”
Another likely factor, according to Bassok, is changes over this period in early childhood experiences before school entry.
“With our increased awareness of the importance of early childhood education, we have way more children attending preschool, and we have parents, particularly middle- and high-income families, investing in their young children’s early education in a way that likely wasn’t the case two decades ago. Children are exposed to academic content earlier than they used to be and, in part, kindergarten teachers may be responding to these changes.”
EdPolicyWorks is a joint collaboration between the Curry School of Education and the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy that seeks to bring together researchers from across the University and the state to focus on important questions of educational policy and the competitiveness of labor in an era of globalization.
About the Author
Audrey Breen
Director of Communications
Curry School of Education
audreybreen@virginia.edu
434-924-0809
Media Contact:
Audrey Breen
Director of Communications
Curry School of Education
audreybreen@virginia.edu
434-924-0809

We must not so over-schedule children that they have no time to play and to dream.

Related:

‘Redshirting’ kindergarteners https://drwilda.com/tag/redshirting-holding-kids-back-from-kindergarten/

The state of preschool education is dire
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/the-state-of-preschool-education-is-dire/

The ‘whole child’ approach to education
https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/the-whole-child-approach-to-education/

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

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

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

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

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Pre-kindergarten programs help at-risk students prepare for school

16 Jul

In Early learning standards and the K-12 continuum, moi said:

Preschool is a portal to the continuum of life long learning. A good preschool stimulates the learning process and prompts the child into asking questions about their world and environment. Baby Center offers advice about how to find a good preschool and general advice to expectant parents. At the core of why education is important is the goal of equipping every child with the knowledge and skills to pursue THEIR dream, whatever that dream is. Christine Armario and Dorie Turner are reporting in the AP article, AP News Break: Nearly 1 in 4 Fails Military Exam which appeared in the Seattle Times:

Nearly one-fourth of the students who try to join the U.S. Army fail its entrance exam, painting a grim picture of an education system that produces graduates who can’t answer basic math, science and reading questions, according to a new study released Tuesday.

Many children begin their first day of school behind their more advantaged peers. Early childhood learning is an important tool is bridging the education deficit.

eSchool News.Com reports that the Pre-K Coalition, which includes the American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, Council of Chief State School Officers, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of State Boards of Education, National Education Association, and the National School Boards Association has released the report, The Importance of Aligning Pre-K through 3rd Grade.”

Gains made in high-quality preschool programs must be sustained and built upon throughout the K-3 years, according to the report. Robust P-3 initiatives align comprehensive early learning standards with state K-3 content standards in an effort to promote children’s healthy development, social and emotional skills, and learning. Those standards should be connected and build upon one another so that pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and primary grade educators can develop and select effective curricula, teaching strategies, and assessment systems. Teaching teams should engage in joint professional development….
The Common Core State Standards hold promise in helping schools connect early learning to later grades, but many state K-12 systems might not connect to early childhood education systems within the same state….
http://www.eschoolnews.com/2011/12/22/report-sets-forth-early-learning-recommendations/

Our goals should be: A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood. ©

Think small, Not small minded ©

Money spent on early childhood programs is akin to yeast for bread. The whole society will rise.

Nancy Cambria writes in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article, School camps in St. Louis area aim to give incoming kindergartners a leg up. The St. Louis programs are typical of many pre-kindergarten programs which are aimed at giving at-risk children a running start.

Some in the child development field worry that the programs are indicative of a national push by too many school districts to regiment young children into rigid, performance-based academic learning too early.

“I don’t have a problem that children have a four-week introduction to going to school in the summer, but you don’t want them to burn out and get them turned-off to school,” warned Joan Almon, director of programs for the Alliance for Children at the University of Maryland.

Administrators and teachers at Hazelwood said the monthlong program that ended last week gives children a chance to test the waters of a more structured school environment so they have less anxiety and more academic and social confidence in the coming school year.

Most of the classrooms are led by district kindergarten teachers, which, at bare minimum, gives the students the chance to know familiar faces when the school year starts in August, said Shanon Drennan, the coordinator for Sunny Start at Garrett Elementary.

For teachers, such programs get more children up to speed earlier on the basic routines and early reading and writing skills needed for an intensive learning year ahead. That makes things easier from the start for teachers who must achieve a lot of goals with their students in just nine months, Drennan said.

Mary Carver said her daughter, Annabell Wallsmith, loves Sunny Start.

“It gets my kid motivated to jump into kindergarten,” she said. “She’s learning the social skills, and it gets her more ready to read.”

TOO MUCH STRUCTURE?

But Almon worries that the motivation behind kindergarten summer school in some districts is to prepare students earlier for mandatory assessment testing and to move them away from the free play and exploration that research suggests enhances learning in young children.

“I just think that when we get caught in thinking the most regimented approach will be the best way, I haven’t seen them bring about a love of learning or a comfort with a group situation or an excitement about learning,” she said.

In the most extreme example she’s seen, Almon said, one North Carolina school district openly praised a teacher in their kindergarten summer “boot camp” program who wore military fatigues as she shouted lessons in ABCs and 1-2-3s….

Almon said the push she has seen toward rigid academics is particularly common in lower-income school districts where the stakes for funding and accreditation are high. She cites one study that found kindergartners in New York and Los Angeles public schools spent two to three hours a day in chairs working on literacy, math and testing and allowed about 20 minutes of play time.

At St. Louis Public Schools, Cheryl Davenport, the director of early childhood programs, said the district’s free “Kindergarten Here I Come!” program focuses heavily on play, though academic enrichment is a clear goal for their students.

The program, which has been running for more than a decade, enrolled about 400 children this summer. Although it’s open to all St. Louis children about to enter kindergarten, Davenport said the bulk of the program’s students are recommended by district preschool teachers who identify them as perhaps needing “a little bit of extra time and focus on basic skills such as early reading and early writing.”

But, she stressed, the program is geared toward fun. So math and lessons are typically given outside at the water table with measuring cups. Prereading and science come through cooking and art projects.

“Our program is meant to provide additional enrichment time,” she said. http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/education/school-camps-in-st-louis-area-aim-to-give-incoming/article_3dc0b0b4-9063-5755-9261-90cf94269b23.html#ixzz20cfmYtC6

One of the major contributors to poverty in third world nations is limited access to education opportunities. Without continued sustained investment in education in this country, we are the next third world country.

Related:

The state of preschool education is dire                        https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/the-state-of-preschool-education-is-dire/

Seattle Research Institute study about outside play https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/seattle-research-institute-study-about-outside-play/

College Board’s ‘Big Future’: Helping low-income kids apply to college                                                                        https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/college-boards-big-future-helping-low-income-kids-apply-to-college/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

‘Redshirting’ kindergarteners

5 Mar

Morley Safer of 60 Minutes reported the excellent story, Redshirting: Holding kids back from kindergarten:

Kindergarten “redshirting” is on the rise. That’s the practice of parents holding their children back from kindergarten so they can start school at age 6 – older, bigger, and more mature than their 5-year-old peers. Some research shows that redshirting will give these youngsters an edge in school, and maybe even in life. But is it fair? After all, as Morley Safer reports, boys are twice as likely to be held back as girls. Whites more than minorities. And the rich redshirt their kids more than the poor.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57390128/?tag=currentVideoInfo;videoMetaInfo

Web Extras

Parents consider “redshirting” in the hope that they will give their children an advantage.

Tom Matlock writes in the Huffington Post article, Redshirting Kindergarten:

It reminded me of what a kindergarten teacher at a private school in Boston recently told me: “I was cornered by an applicant’s father who asked that if he sent his child to me in pre-K, could I promise that his child would get into to Harvard in 14 years.”

Most particularly it made me think of the increasing number of families who are holding back their sons at the age of five, particularly in private schools, in order to increase their competitive advantage, following, perhaps without knowing it consciously, the line of thinking that has been used to produce professional hockey players.

“I got paid $100 for that shot,” one of my players told me as we warmed up for our basketball game, referring to a close-range layup the prior week. No, I’m not an NBA coach. The player wasn’t referring to some elaborate point shaving scheme cooked up by would-be sports agents to high school prodigies. The player was six years old.

The kid’s parents had paid him to make a basket. I was floored. Speechless. He said it in passing like it didn’t really matter, like even he thought it was kind of weird.

Pretty soon the boys were laughing and chasing each other around cones I had set up, trying without much success to dribble the miniature balls while playing tag. Clearly, having fun was way more important to this kid than any parent’s $100 payout. But it stuck with me as a sign of something profoundly wrong with our generation of parents, and a potential danger to the generation of kids, especially boys, that we are raising.

It reminded me of what a kindergarten teacher at a private school in Boston recently told me: “I was cornered by an applicant’s father who asked that if he sent his child to me in pre-K, could I promise that his child would get into to Harvard in 14 years.”

Most particularly it made me think of the increasing number of families who are holding back their sons at the age of five, particularly in private schools, in order to increase their competitive advantage, following, perhaps without knowing it consciously, the line of thinking that has been used to produce professional hockey players.

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell discusses the odd distribution of birth months among NHL players. In Canada, youth hockey is a highly policed sport where players are registered strictly by calendar year. The oldest, therefore, at each level are those born earliest in the year. Just by virtue of age they tend to be bigger and stronger. Gladwell argues convincingly that a disproportionate number of successful hockey players end up being born in the first few months of the year (see graph below). This selection process starts as early as age 8, and the effect persists all the way up to the NHL. It has been very consistent over time.

So if it is true of youth hockey players in Canada why wouldn’t it be true of kindergarten boys in Boston, or San Francisco, whose parents are hoping they will grow up to be President one day. That makes sense right?

I asked one admissions officer what he says to the parents of boys entering kindergarten about the idea of holding their son back. He said, “I often tell parents that if allowing their children to be on the older end, rather than the younger end, results in any of the following: starting for a sports team as opposed to sitting on the bench; being one of the first to drive as opposed to one of the last (huge social advantage); the possibility they will be an A and B student as opposed to a B and C student; (for the dads) getting the girl or not getting the girl, then it is worth considering.” (All the sources for this article asked to remain anonymous given the sensitive nature of their day-to-day relationships with children and their parents.)

But a different admissions officer disagreed strongly: “The trend is disgusting, but it fits with any arms race or conflict cycle model. I’ve been wondering more broadly about what age we push kids through all the school factories. All they have in common is age and since they all develop at different ages, that system often makes little sense anyway.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-matlack/redshirting-kindergarten_1_b_859824.html

There is a huge debate regarding “redshirting.”

Sam Wang, an associate professor of molecular biology and neuroscience at Princeton, Sandra Aamodt, a former editor in chief of Nature Neuroscience. Wang and Aamodt have written “Welcome to Your Child’s Brain: How the Mind Grows From Conception to College.” They have written an interesting New York Times opinion piece, Delay Kindergarten at Your Child’s Peril:

Teachers may encourage redshirting because more mature children are easier to handle in the classroom and initially produce better test scores than their younger classmates. In a class of 25, the average difference is equivalent to going from 13th place to 11th. This advantage fades by the end of elementary school, though, and disadvantages start to accumulate. In high school, redshirted children are less motivated and perform less well. By adulthood, they are no better off in wages or educational attainment — in fact, their lifetime earnings are reduced by one year.

In short, the analogy to athletics does not hold. The question we should ask instead is: What approach gives children the greatest opportunity to learn?

Parents who want to give their young children an academic advantage have a powerful tool: school itself. In a large-scale study at 26 Canadian elementary schools, first graders who were young for their year made considerably more progress in reading and math than kindergartners who were old for their year (but just two months younger). In another large study, the youngest fifth-graders scored a little lower than their classmates, but five points higher in verbal I.Q., on average, than fourth-graders of the same age. In other words, school makes children smarter.

The benefits of being younger are even greater for those who skip a grade, an option available to many high-achieving children. Compared with nonskippers of similar talent and motivation, these youngsters pursue advanced degrees and enter professional school more often. Acceleration is a powerful intervention, with effects on achievement that are twice as large as programs for the gifted. Grade-skippers even report more positive social and emotional feelings.

These differences may come from the increased challenges of a demanding environment. Learning is maximized not by getting all the answers right, but by making errors and correcting them quickly. In this respect, children benefit from being close to the limits of their ability. Too low an error rate becomes boring, while too high an error rate is unrewarding. A delay in school entry may therefore still be justified if children are very far behind their peers, leaving a gap too broad for school to allow effective learning.

Parents want to provide the best environment for their child, but delaying school is rarely the right approach. The first six years of life are a time of tremendous growth and change in the developing brain. Synapses, the connections between brain cells, are undergoing major reorganization. Indeed, a 4-year-old’s brain uses more energy than it ever will again. Brain development cannot be put on pause, so the critical question is how to provide the best possible context to support it.

For most children, that context is the classroom. Disadvantaged children have the most to lose from delayed access to school. For low-income children, every month of additional schooling closes one-tenth of the gap between them and more advantaged students. Even without redshirting, a national trend is afoot to move back the cutoff birthdays for the start of school. Since the early 1970s, the date has shifted by an average of six weeks, to about Oct. 14 from about Nov. 25. This has the effect of making children who would have been the youngest in one grade the oldest in the next-lower grade; it hurts children from low-income families the most.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/25/opinion/sunday/dont-delay-your-kindergartners-start.html

Most parents no matter their class or ethnicity want to give their children a good start in life. A key building block to a solid education foundation is early childhood learning. There are many different considerations. The overall considerations should center on the quality of the early childhood learning and whether it meets the needs of the child. For some, those concerns take a back seat to whether the preschool is the “right” place rather than the appropriate place. “Right” meaning where the parents and child can mingle with the “right” sort or type or meet the parent’s definition of a successful life. The focus of my comment is to urge parents to look at what will in the long term make a happy, healthy, well adjusted child who is secure enough to take on the challenges of life. Nothing in life is guaranteed, even to the most well connected. How one copes with survival in a world that often presents challenges, which upend what people thought they knew, depends on internal fortitude and a sense of security.  

Resources:

Kindergarten Redshirting http://www.education.com/topic/kindergarten-redshirting/

The Redshirting Debate Continues http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/26/the-redshirting-debate-continues/

The Pros and Cons of Holding Out http://www.wceruw.org/news/coverStories/pros_cons_holding_out.php

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Early learning standards and the K-12 continuum

3 Jan

Preschool is a portal to the continuum of life long learning. A good preschool stimulates the learning process and prompts the child into asking questions about their world and environment. Baby Center offers advice about how to find a good preschool and general advice to expectant parents. At the core of why education is important is the goal of equipping every child with the knowledge and skills to pursue THEIR dream, whatever that dream is. Christine Armario and Dorie Turner are reporting in the AP article, AP News Break: Nearly 1 in 4 Fails Military Exam which appeared in the Seattle Times:

Nearly one-fourth of the students who try to join the U.S. Army fail its entrance exam, painting a grim picture of an education system that produces graduates who can’t answer basic math, science and reading questions, according to a new study released Tuesday.

Many children begin their first day of school behind their more advantaged peers. Early childhood learning is an important tool is bridging the education deficit.

eSchool News.Com reports that the Pre-K Coalition, which includes the American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, Council of Chief State School Officers, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of State Boards of Education, National Education Association, and the National School Boards Association has released the report, “The Importance of Aligning Pre-K through 3rd Grade.”

Gains made in high-quality preschool programs must be sustained and built upon throughout the K-3 years, according to the report. Robust P-3 initiatives align comprehensive early learning standards with state K-3 content standards in an effort to promote children’s healthy development, social and emotional skills, and learning. Those standards should be connected and build upon one another so that pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and primary grade educators can develop and select effective curricula, teaching strategies, and assessment systems. Teaching teams should engage in joint professional development….
The Common Core State Standards hold promise in helping schools connect early learning to later grades, but many state K-12 systems might not connect to early childhood education systems within the same state….
In particular, it suggests that federal policy makers:
Encourage the development of P-3 teaching credentials.
Support joint planning and professional development between early childhood providers and P-3 teachers.
Reduce parallel sets of regulations and reporting requirements across federal funding streams.
Allow blending of federal and state early childhood education and care funding to strengthen systems building efforts….

States have also begun to adopt a more aligned P-3 approach. For example:
In Washington, the State Department of Early Learning Starting and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction host a two-day conference for teachers, early childhood educators, principals, superintendents, parents, and policy makers, which aims to create a shared understanding of the research and key elements of pre-kindergarten through grade 3 models.
New Jersey has created a P-3 teaching credential, which recognizes the unique aspects of early childhood teaching—including child development, early childhood curriculum, developmentally appropriate practice, and philosophical and theoretical foundations of early childhood education. The certification is required of all lead teachers in preschool settings in Abbott school districts, and is a valid certificate for teaching in preschool through third grade in non-Abbott districts.
In Virginia, the State Board of Education collaborated with the governor’s office and many key agencies to focus on improving the state’s early education workforce. The effort has aligned P-3 teacher competencies with foundational documents and devised a Curriculum Review Rubric and Planning Tool for early educators, which is being piloted in several preschools.
Georgia has developed and implemented the Georgia Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (GKIDS), a performance-based assessment intended to provide teachers with information about the level of instructional support needed for students entering kindergarten and first grade. This strategy has promoted the internalization of standards, curriculum, and instruction by P-3 teachers, as well as joint professional development opportunities to advance vertical teaming and transition children from pre-kindergarten into kindergarten and first grade. http://www.eschoolnews.com/2011/12/22/report-sets-forth-early-learning-recommendations/

Moi is using “preschool” to mean the same thing as “nursery school,” the schooling for children around three and four years of age. Professionals sometimes use the term “early childhood education” to mean the same thing.

There is an important distinction, however, between preschool and child care. Child care refers to the day-to-day, routine care of children from birth to three years, and to those parts of an older child’s day in which the primary focus is not on education. Preschool, on the other hand, refers to the portion of the day in which the main goal is developmentally appropriate education. (This isn’t to say that there isn’t some overlap, of course. A lot of what goes on in a preschool classroom involves taking care of a child’s physical and emotional needs, and a lot of what goes on in a good child-care setting is, in fact, educational.)

Kayla Webley has written an excellent report in Time magazine about Pew Charitable Trusts’ findings on a studies of preschool. In Rethinking Pre-K:5 Ways to Fix Preschool Webley reports:

Against this backdrop, Pew is exiting the pre-K stage with several hard-boiled recommendations. TIME got an early look at the report, Transforming Public Education: Pathway to a Pre-K-12 Future. Here are the highlights, plus a handicapper’s guide to the chances of implementing these directives:

1. Stop thinking K to 12, and start thinking pre-K to 12

States are required to provide education for students in grades 1 to 12, which means that even in tough economic times, they can reduce funding only on a per-child basis. The same is not true for preschool. Only a handful of states are required to provide pre-K; all the others can choose to cap enrollment for low-income children or stop funding these programs altogether. “One of the reasons that it’s easy in some states to cut back pre-K investments when times are tough is this idea that it’s just a program for some kids, not something for all kids…”

Reality check: Shifting the vernacular from K to 12 to pre-K to 12 shouldn’t be too hard. After all, it wasn’t all that long ago that K to 12 became a common household phrase. But families won’t start thinking about preschool as a crucial part of the educational continuum until their elected officials do….

As state legislatures and Congress convene January to what may look to some like an empty cash drawer, this is a plea to fully fund basic education at all levels. We need more educated people, not just people who sat in chairs, either passively or unwillingly, until they in their own mind received their parole as evidenced by a meaningless diploma. We need more people who have the critical facilities and independence of mind to not be swayed by the wackos at either end of the political spectrum. People who do not simply spout meaningless platitudes based upon their own empty thoughts, which are unchallenged by either facts or reflection, but people who pragmatically consider the available options. Finally, the nasty trend that we do not live in community with others but live at the expense of others must be challenged. Education and learning should start early.

Our goals should be: A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood. ©

Think small, Not small minded ©

Money spent on early childhood programs is akin to yeast for bread. The whole society will rise.

Resources:

Why Preschool Matters?

Why Preschool is Important?

The Benefits of Preschool

Will Preschool Education Make a Child Ready for Kindergarten

Preschool, Why it is the Most Important Grade

National Conference of State Legislatures Resources on Kindergarten

Education Commission of the States, Full Day Kindergarten: A Study of State Policies in the United States

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

A no-brainer: Early childhood learning

14 Nov

Most parents no matter their class or ethnicity want to give their children a good start in life. A key building block to a solid education foundation is preschool. Changing family patterns make full day kindergarten an importation option. Adoption.Com provides a good overview of the history of full day kindergarten

CHANGES IN FAMILY PATTERNS

Among the changes that make full-day kindergarten attractive to many families are the following:

–An increase in the number of working parents. The number of mothers of children under six who work outside the home increased 34 percent from 1970 to 1980 (Evans and Marken 1983). In 1984, 48 percent of children under six had mothers in the labor force (The National Commission on Working Women 1985)

–An increase in the number of children with preschool or day care experience. Since the mid-1970s most children have had some kind of preschool experience in Head Start, day care, private preschools, or in early childhood programs in the public schools. These experiences have provided children’s first encounters with daily organized instructional and social activities before kindergarten (Herman 1984)

–An increase in the influence of television and family mobility. These two factors have produced 5-year-olds who seem more knowledgeable about their world and are apparently more ready for a full-day school experience than the children of previous generations

–Renewed interest in academic preparation for later school success. Even when both do not work outside the home, parents are interested in the contribution of early childhood programs (including full-day kindergarten) to later school success.

The article also discusses the pros and cons of full day kindergarten.

Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post reported on a recent conference about early learning in the article, Early childhood education again in spotlight:

Q.What does “high quality” mean when talking about early education programs?

W. Steven Barnett, co-director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, said that quality programs for 3- and 4-year-olds develop skills and knowledge in language and literacy, math, science, social studies and the arts, while also addressing social, emotional and physical development. The Center for the Child Care Workforce says that such programs also have qualified and well-paid staff, low staff turnover, low student-teacher ratios, provision of comprehensive social services and nurturing environments, and periodic licensing and/or accreditation. The results of such programs, research shows, are students who succeed better academically, graduate from high school more often and are more economically productive later in life. Economic impact studies have shown that every $1 invested in early childhood education saves taxpayers up to $13 in future costs.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/early-childhood-education-again-in-spotlight/2011/10/06/gIQAwMNVYL_story.html

The goal should be to enroll as many children as possible in early learning programs.

A good summary of the benefits of all day kindergarten is provided by the Indiana Department of Education.

  • Teachers reported significantly greater progress for full-day children in literacy, math, general learning skills, and social skills. Full-day kindergarten children spend more time in teacher-directed individual work and learning centers. Elicker and Mathur (1997) found that full-day kindergarten allowed children to be more actively engaged and more positive in their activities.
  • Researchers find strong support for quality full-day kindergarten programs among parents and educators. Parents and educators report that full-day kindergarten is less rushed with opportunities for extending learning experiences, flexibility to address individual students’ needs and better communication between home and school (Elicker and Mathur, 1997; Hough and Bryde, 1996; Wichita Public Schools, 1989).
  • The full-day schedule allows more appropriate challenges for children at all developmental levels. For advanced students, there is time to complete increasingly challenging long-term projects. For children with developmental delays or those “at-risk” for school problems, there is more time for completion of projects and more time for teacher/student interaction.
  • Full-day kindergarten programs can result in social benefits. In a longitudinal study by J.R. Cryan (1992), children in full-day kindergarten programs showed more positive behavior than their peers in half-day kindergarten in the areas of originality, independent learning, involvement in classroom activities, productivity with their peers, and their approach to the teacher.
  • Full-day kindergarten programs can result in academic benefits. Research analyzing twenty-three studies of full-day kindergarten indicated that “overall, students who attend full-day kindergartens manifest significantly greater achievement than students who attend half-day kindergarten” (Child Study Journal, 27(4), 273). Full-day kindergarten children have fewer grade retentions and lower incidence of Title I placements (Cryan, 1992).
  • School corporations in Indiana that currently provide full-day kindergarten also find academic and social benefits. A longitudinal study of full-day kindergarten in the Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation revealed academic, social and behavioral benefits. On standardized tests, full-day kindergarten children performed significantly better than half-day kindergarten children in third, fifth, and seventh grade on the CTBS.
  • The number of transitions kindergartners face in a typical day can be reduced by full-day kindergarten. Due to family work schedules, children who attend half-day may be cared for by three or more care givers over the course of a day. While full-day kindergarten does not eliminate the need for child care outside of school (Elicker and Mathur, 1997), many parents, who are given the option, prefer full-day because children may have fewer transitions.
  • Two-way transportation can be an important benefit of full-day kindergarten. Currently, most school corporations in Indiana only provide one-way transportation for half-day kindergarten students. There are a number of children in Indiana who are unable to attend kindergarten because their parent(s) do not have access to transportation during the day.

Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S have a Kindergarten Readiness Checklist of skills your child should have mastered by the time they enter kindergarten. Two other good articles are Ellen H. Parlapiano’s Ready for Kindergarten? and BabyCenter’s Kindergarten Readiness: Is Your Child Ready For School?

Early childhood learning should prepare children for learning and help with socialization. Alison Gopnik has an excellent article in Slate which reports about the results of two new studies, Why Preschool Shouldn’t Be Like School which argues against strict academic programs in preschool. Kate Zernike has an excellent in the New York Times about how some children are literally being pushed out of childhood. In Fast-Tracking to Kindergarten?  Zernike writes:

Research suggests that there is little benefit from this kind of tutoring; that young children learn just as much about math, if not more, fitting mixing bowls together on the kitchen floor. But programs like Kumon are gaining from, and generating, parents’ anxiety about what kind of preparation their children will need — and whether parents themselves have what it takes to provide it….

The best you can say is that they’re useless,” said Alison Gopnik, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, who compared the escalation of supplemental education with Irish elk competing to see which had the biggest antlers.

A key building block to a solid education foundation is preschool. There are many different considerations in selecting a preschool. The overall considerations should center on the quality of the preschool and whether it meets the needs of the child. For some, those concerns take a back seat to whether the preschool is the “right” place rather than the appropriate place. “Right” meaning where the parents and child can mingle with the “right” sort or type. The focus of moi’s comment is to urge parents to look at what will in the long term make a happy, healthy, well adjusted child who is secure enough to take on the challenges of life. Nothing in life is guaranteed, even to the most well connected. How one copes with survival in a world that often presents challenges, which upend what people thought they knew, depends on internal fortitude and a sense of security. 

For a variety of reasons, despite the budget mess, we need to INVEST in children.  

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©

Resources

  1. Pew Center Pre K Now
  2. National Conference of State Legislatures Resources on Kindergarten
  3. Education Commission of the States, Full Day Kindergarten: A Study of State Policies in the United States

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©