Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Fostering the socio -emotional adjustment of low -income children: The effects of universal pre -kindergarten and Head Start in Oklahoma
by Lowenstein, Amy Elisabeth, Ph.D., Georgetown University, 2009, 201; 3371816
Abstract (Summary)

This two-part study examined the effects of the Tulsa Public Schools (TPS) pre-kindergarten (pre-K) program and the Community Action Project (CAP) of Tulsa County Head Start program in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on low-income children's teacher-reported socio-emotional adjustment at kindergarten entry. Paper one used propensity score matching coupled with ordinary least squares regression to estimate program impacts on low-income children's socio-emotional adjustment. The sample consisted of 1,017 kindergarten children who participated in TPS pre-K the previous year, 345 kindergarten children who participated in CAP Head Start the previous year, and 796 control children. Paper two used hierarchical linear modeling to examine associations between classroom and teacher characteristics and low-income childrens socio-emotional adjustment. The sample consisted of 875 kindergarten children who participated in TPS pre-K (n = 73 classrooms) the previous year and 275 kindergarten children who participated in CAP Head Start (n = 27 classrooms) the previous year.

Results of paper one indicate that participation in TPS pre-K was associated with lower levels of timidity and higher levels of attentiveness, but there were no effects of participation in CAP Head Start. Subgroup analyses revealed that low-income pre-K children reaped the greatest socio-emotional rewards when they participated in full-day programs, as was the case for low-income girls and children who were eligible for free lunch. Low-income boys showed increased aggressiveness when they enrolled in Head Start for one year but not two. For low-income Hispanic children, participation in Head Start was associated with increased attentiveness. The discussion focuses on possible explanations for these varied subgroup effects.

Results of paper two reveal that pre-K teachers' years of experience and use of specific curricula were associated with low-income children's socio-emotional adjustment at kindergarten entry. In Head Start classrooms, the salient predictors were teacher characteristics, classroom composition, and dimensions of classroom climate. Analyses run on the full sample of pre-K and Head Start classrooms indicated that teachers' years of experience and use of curricula, classroom composition, and program auspice were related to low-income children's socio-emotional adjustment. Results suggest that the mechanisms through which early education programs influence low-income children's social development vary by program auspice.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Phillips, Deborah A.
Commitee: Gormley, William T., Lombardi, Joan, Woolard, Jennifer
School: Georgetown University
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-B 70/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Early childhood education, Developmental psychology
Keywords: Adjustment, Behavior problems, Early care and education, Head Start, Low-income, Low-income children, Oklahoma, Pre-kindergarten, Socio-emotional adjustment, Universal pre-kindergarten
Publication Number: 3371816
ISBN: 978-1-109-33501-9
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