Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

The Effects of On-Time, Delayed and Early Kindergarten Enrollment on Children's Mathematics Achievement: Differences by Gender, Race, and Family Socio-Economic Status*

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

The Effects of On-Time, Delayed and Early Kindergarten Enrollment on Children's Mathematics Achievement: Differences by Gender, Race, and Family Socio-Economic Status*

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study was an examination of the effect of delayed, early, and on-time kindergarten enrollment on children's kindergarten mathematics achievement. Central for this study was to explore if the relationship between the kindergarten enrollment status and mathematics achievement varies by children's gender, race, and family SES status. It used a nationally representative sample of ECLS-K data collected in the United States of America. On average, findings of this study suggested that children with delayed enrollment in kindergarten had stronger mathematics skills than children with on-time enrollment in kindergarten, who had stronger skills than children with early enrollment. However, this pattern of relationship appeared to be different for children from lower socioeconomic background and children from racial minority groups by their gender.

Key Words

Kindergarten Mathematics Achievement, Age of Kindergarten Entry, Socio-Demographic Factors.

The age at which children should enter kindergarten has been of interest to policy makers, educators, parents, and researchers for many years (e.g., Ames, 1967; Crosser, 1991; Grau, 1993; Gray, 1985; Moore & Moore, 1975; Stipek & Byler, 2001). In most states across the U.S., children are legally eligible to enter kindergarten when they turn five years of age on or before a cutoffdate (Education Commission of States [ECS], 2004; Jamieson, Currie, & Martinez, 2001; Siegel & Hanson, 1991). However, the date by which a child must be aged five to begin kindergarten varies greatly (ECS; Gray; Moore, Moore, Willey, Moore, & Kordenbrock, 1980; Stipek, 2002). In addition, in the past 50 years, most states and school districts have pulled the cutoffdates up, so that children enter kindergarten at an older age (Grau; Gredler, 1992; Siegel & Hanson; Stipek). Parents also delay their children's enrollment in kindergarten at will, and teachers and professionals recommend postponing enrollment of children who have late birthdates in their cohort to give the "giftof time" to be ready for school (Grau & DiPerna, 2000; Stipek). These actions are based on the presumed likelihood that when children enter school older, they will show more competencies in school tasks, and will be more likely to succeed in school (Grau; Grau, Kroeger, & Brown 2003; Stipek). However, there is little evidence to support this assumption in, and most studies have not considered that the effects of kindergarten enrollment on student achievement may differ by children's race, family socio-economic status (SES) and gender. This study addressed this issue by focusing on how delayed, early or on-time kindergarten enrollment may affect children's kindergarten mathematics achievement by gender, family SES, and racial background.

Effect of Kindergarten Entrance Age on Achievement

Studies comparing school outcomes of children with delayed and on-time enrollment in kindergarten have yielded inconsistent findings. Using a large-scale data, West, Meek, and Hurst (2000) found significant differences in school performance between children with delayed and on-time enrollment in kindergarten in 1993, yet in 1995 there was no such difference. Small-scale studies have also yielded mixed results. Some studies have found that children with delayed, on-time, and early kindergarten enrollment do not differ significantly in their mathematics achievement in the first (Morrison, Griffith, & Alberts, 1997), and third grade (Grau & DiPerna, 2000). On the other hand, in a study by Cameron and Wilson (1990), children with delayed enrollment scored higher than the youngest group in their cohort, while the older and medial group of children among children with on-time enrollment scored higher than children with delayed enrollment in the second grade. Yet, this difference was not evident in the fourth grade. A study comparing children with delayed enrollment with children who were determined immature according to a developmental readiness test, but placed in kindergarten (referred as overplaced children in the study) found that, these two groups did not differ in their mathematics scores in the second-, third-, fourth- and sixth-grade (May & Welch, 1984). …

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