Preschool children need essential tools to prepare them for kindergarten and beyond, including a strong foundation in social-emotional and cognitive, reading, writing, and math skills. Exposure to pre-kindergarten programs promotes academic preparedness. Studies have shown that “at-risk” children, including African Americans, and other racial or ethnic groups living in resource-poor communities, are particularly vulnerable to the negative impacts from a lack of pre-K education. This study assessed the impact of pre-K attendance on kindergarten readiness, and examined whether pre-K participation helped to close the achievement gap between Black inner-city students and their White peers. Employing elements of a quasi-experimental design, two groups were compared: 467 pre-K students (Blacks, Hispanics, and Whites) who participated in a district pre-K or Head Start program the year before kindergarten entry, and a comparison group of 229 students (Blacks, Hispanics, and Whites) who did not. Secondary data analyses using multivariate linear regression and analysis of variance compared reading and math scores at kindergarten entry between the two groups. Results showed that pre-K schooling led to statistically significant enhanced reading skills, but not math skills. White students achieved significantly higher math scores compared to their Black and Hispanic peers, but those who did not attend preschool had slightly higher math scores compared to those who did attend. Additionally, results showed that attendance in pre-K programs led to statistically significant enhanced reading skills; however, negligible improvements were found in math scores when Black and Hispanic children attended high-performing K–6 schools. Results suggest that while quality pre-K education is a valuable tool to promote equality and reduce academic performance disparities at kindergarten entry, pre-K is not a panacea for the accumulated disadvantages of persistent, cross-generational poverty.
|Commitee:||Hastings, Julia, Lawson, Hal, Robin, Kenneth|
|School:||State University of New York at Albany|
|School Location:||United States -- New York|
|Source:||DAI-A 80/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Education Policy, Early childhood education|
|Keywords:||Achievement gap, Poverty, Pre-k, Quasi-experimental design, Race|
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