Academic achievement gaps across racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups are apparent as soon as children enter kindergarten: racial minorities, Hispanics, and poor children begin school at a distinct disadvantage compared to their White peers from middle- and high-income families (Chatterji, 2005; Fryer, Jr. & Levitt, 2004; Magnuson, Meyers, Ruhm, & Waldfogel, 2004; Magnuson & Waldfogel, 2005; Reardon, 2011). To understand these gaps at kindergarten entry, it is essential that researchers understand the skills with which children enter kindergarten.
Previous research on school readiness has been limited by variable-centered methods that separate components of school readiness (e.g., early academic skills, social skills, engagement). As each entering kindergartner possesses their own set of school readiness skills, it is not likely that school readiness skills are independent of one another. School readiness may be better conceptualized and measured as patterns of skills that children possess at the beginning of kindergarten. These detectable patterns of school readiness skills present at kindergarten entry may deferentially support development of academic and non-academic achievement outcomes, such that strengths can promote the development of weaker skills across the kindergarten year.
Within the framework of Cognitive Load Theory (Sweller, 1994), this study investigated the nature of the relations among children's school readiness skills and their associations with development of academic, social, and engagement skills across the kindergarten year. This study used a person-centered analytic technique to identify profiles of school readiness present in entering kindergartners and explored the different developmental trajectories of academic, social, and engagement skills of children across these profiles. Five school readiness profiles were detected: 1) Scholastic, 2) On Par, 3) Room to Grow, 4) Super Regulator, and 5) Wiggler. Membership in these profiles was predicted by key demographic variables, and membership in profiles in turn uniquely predicted change in achievement outcomes across the kindergarten year. More specifically, children in the Super Regulator profile improved notably in academic skills, which were their weaker skills at school entry, but did not show improvement in social and engagement skills as a group across the year; children in the Wiggler profile showed moderate improvements in engagement skills, social skills, and self control across the year; children in the On Par profile showed no change in social and engagement skills, while showing the most improvement in math scores across all the profiles; the social and engagement skills of children in the Scholastic profile improved moderately, while their academic skills improved the least of all the groups; and children within the Room to Grow profile showed the most growth in social and engagement skills and improved moderately in math skills, but did not show the same improvement in reading skills.
Furthermore, this study contrasted the person-centered approach described above to a more traditional, variable-centered approach. The author believes that the person-centered approach succeeded in providing findings about school readiness that can be more easily and succinctly communicated to early childhood education stakeholders than did the variable-centered approach.
|Commitee:||Skinner, Ellen, Steele, Joel|
|School:||Portland State University|
|School Location:||United States -- Oregon|
|Source:||MAI 56/05M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Cluster analysis, Kindergarten, Kindergarten readiness, Person-centered analysis, School readiness|
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