Magazine article USA TODAY

Is Kindergarten the New First Grade?

Magazine article USA TODAY

Is Kindergarten the New First Grade?

Article excerpt

Children entering first grade have significantly better reading skills than similar students had a decade and a half ago, according to a study at Ohio State University, Columbus. Researchers say this means that, in general, children are better readers at a younger age, but the study also revealed where gaps remain.

The good news is that even low-achieving students saw gains in basic reading skills and narrowed the achievement gap with other young readers. However, that did not translate into better overall reading for the less-skilled children. The research shows that the gap between low-achieving readers and others actually widened when it came to advanced reading skills.

"Overall, it is good news," says study coauthor Jerome D'Agostino, professor of educational studies. "We have evidence that the increased emphasis on learning important skills earlier in life is having a real impact on helping develop reading abilities by first grade."

Yet, the results also show that strategies to help preschoolers who are having trouble with language skills need to be adjusted, notes coauthor Emily Rodgers, associate professor of teaching and learning. …

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