A Review: Journal of Research in Childhood Education, Vol. 24, No. 2
Harlin, Rebecca P., Lacina, Jan, Childhood Education
This column informs Childhood Education readers about the practical contents of the Journal of Research in Childhood Education. CE readers are encouraged to read the full articles to gain more information and insight (go to www.informaworld.ujrc for more information).
The Effects of Age at Early Kindergarten Entry on the Reading Proficiency of African American and European American Students--Easton-Brooks & Brown
For many parents, kindergarten entry presents a dilemma--does my child have the skills to be ready for school or should I delay entry for another year? The belief that an extra year will be advantageous for children may not be supported by the research. The practice's frequency prompted an examination of the real outcomes of delaying kindergarten entry, a practice that increases at 9% a year. Easton-Brooks and Brown's study was designed to use data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, kindergarten through grade 5, to examine the reading proficiency scores of African American and European American children at three intervals--fall of kindergarten, spring of 1st grade, and spring of 3rd grade.
The sample included over 5,000 first-time kindergarten students in public school--1,320 African Americans and 4,399 European Americans from lower and above-average socioeconomic levels. None of the students spoke English as a second language or had an individualized educational plan (IEP), and all remained in the same school throughout the elementary grades. The data sources for reading proficiency were the 50- to 70-item reading assessments for each grade level, measuring basic skills, vocabulary, initial understanding, personal reflections, and critical stance. The number of basic skills items decreased from kindergarten to 3rd grade, while the more complicated items increased. Reading proficiency was attained with the student answering three of the four items for the skill correctly.
The changes in the reading proficiency data were analyzed using three separate growth-level analyses. Unlike the results of previous research, this study's results found that the two groups did not differ in their reading proficiency scores at kindergarten entry when both groups entered at the eligible age; the difference between the two groups at the end of 3rd grade was 0.02%. Further, this study found that children whose kindergarten entrance was delayed did not have greater reading proficiency scores than those who began school when eligible.
These results lend support to the position that there is no real advantage to delaying the start of kindergarten by another year. This study presents an interesting opportunity for further discussion and research with preservice teachers, inservice teachers, and parents. These findings may surprise parents and encourage them to rethink their plans, especially for boys. Many parents believe that delaying their sons' kindergarten entry will help them not only academically, but also physically.
Empowering Primary Writers Through Daily Journal Writing--Jones & East
Emergent literacy researchers Marie Clay, Donald Graves, and Elizabeth Sulzby have defined the link between young children's reading and writing experiences and their understanding of English orthography and fundamental concepts about print. These findings encouraged early childhood teachers to include regular, daily opportunities for children to explore writing through journals, labeling pictures, messages/letters, and other forms of authentic communication. This body of research also underscores the need for adults' consistent modeling of writing, as well as for providing individual feedback through conferences with children about their texts. Feedback that is supportive, strategic, and timely contributes to each child's growth and competence in expressing thoughts, and helps set attainable goals for improving communication.
Jones and East contribute to this body of research through their study of 1st-graders' journal writing throughout the year. …