The federal National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has launched a longitudinal study of the kindergarten class of 2010-11 that will run through their expected completion of fifth grade in 2016. The first report is a profile of the nation’s 3.5 million first-time kindergartners, drawn from the study’s nationally representative sample of 18,200 children enrolled in 970 schools.
The recently released profile of kindergartners includes both demographic and educational information.
First the demographics:
- One-quarter of first-time kindergartners live in households with incomes below federal poverty levels.
- Three-quarters (76%) live in two-parent households.
- Almost two-fifths (38%) have parents who have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- A small majority (53%) are white, 24% are Hispanic, 13% are black, 4% are Asian and 4% are two or more races.
The new study from NCES, which is part of the U.S. Department of Education, is the third in a series of longitudinal studies of young children.
In the recently released profile of kindergartners, NCES also assessed children’s early reading and math skills using individually administered direct assessments based on the framework used for the National Assessment of Educational Progress. According to the NCES profile:
- Older first-time kindergartners – those born between January and August 2004 – scored better, on average, on the early math assessments than all younger age groups and better, on average, on reading than all but kindergartners born between September and December 2004.
- Kindergartners in households with incomes below the poverty level scored lowest on early math and reading skills, and children in households with incomes at least twice the poverty level scored highest.
- Kindergartners whose parents had more education scored higher on reading and math assessments than children whose parents had less education.
- Children living with two parents out-performed children in other types of households on assessments of reading and math skills.
“The study will provide information on students’ status at entry to school, their transition into school, and their progression through the elementary grades,” the report notes. “The longitudinal nature of the … data will enable researchers to study how a wide range of family, school, community and individual factors are associated with educational socio-emotional and physical development over time. Information is being collected from the students, their parents/guardians, their teachers, their school administrators, and their before- and after-school care providers.”
(Note: The third bullet has been corrected to accurately characterize the 38% whose parents have earned bachelor’s degrees or higher.)