Session Summary: Kindergarten as a Policy Lever in Educational Reform
November 10, 2012 12:51 PM
This session provided an overview of varying studies done on kindergarten programs and the children enrolled in them.
The first panelist and researcher Chloe Gibbs from University of Georgia presented on Reconciling Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Evidence on the Impact of Full-Day Kindergarten. The study examined the impact of full day kindergarten and provided insight on how this could potentially change policies regarding the structure of these programs.
The study The Effects of Formative Assessment in Early Elementary School: Evidence From a Random Assignment Study by researchers Susanna Loeb and Ben York from Stanford University examined formative assessment programs. The study tracked implementation of an early-literacy formative assessment program in the San Francisco Unified School District and its effects on teaching methods, student performance, and resources.
In the same panel, researcher Daphna Bassok from University of Virginia led a discussion on Is Kindergarten the New First Grade? The Effects of No Child Left Behind on Kindergarten. Recent studies have shown that kindergarten classrooms are starting to put more emphasis on academics by focusing on skill building and challenging homework and less on play. The study conducted by Bassok and researcher Anna Rorem, also from UVA, examined and provided empirical evidence on if and to what extent kindergarten classrooms have changed. For their study, they use data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (Study ECLS-B and ECLS-K), which provided surveys of kindergarten teachers in 1998 and 2006. In this time period, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was passed, creating dramatic changes. The researchers also compared shifts in kindergarten practices in public and private schools, as the latter did not have pressures from the NCLB standards. Discussant Robert Olsen of Washington State University stated that “the paper did a good job of persuading me about how kindergarten classrooms have changed over the years.”
The discussion of Kindergarten Redshirting: Assessing Incidence and Impacts covered the different aspects contributing to kindergarten “redshirting,” when a student enrolls in kindergarten a year later than expected due to the cutoff date. Researcher Jade Marcus from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and researcher Kevin Fortner from Georgia State University examined the effects and outcomes of redshirting in North Carolina using a statewide micro-level census data that studied children from kindergarten to the 3rd grade. There were comparison studies conducted using 3rd grade standardized test scores for reading and math for redshirted children compared with those that were not. The study also answered the fundamental questions regarding the rates of redshirting in the state and whether these rates differ in other communities. In the presentation, Marcus emphasized the possibility of influence and how it affects parents' choice of redshirting their child. Their findings reported that redshirting does vary by communities and confirmed previous studies which showed that the average effect of redshirting was negative.
Contributed by Shreya Barot, Rutgers University