Thursday, November 6, 2014: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Enchantment II (Convention Center)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Panel Organizers: C. Kevin Fortner, Georgia State University
Panel Chairs: Damon Cann, Utah State University
Discussants: Dale C. Farran, Vanderbilt University and Ross Rubenstein, Syracuse University
Both the well-known importance of early childhood education and the increasing importance and associated pressures of educational accountability continue the demand for research regarding pre-k and kindergarten classrooms. The proposed panel brings together four papers from researchers across the country concerned with this important, early period in a student’s public education experience-kindergarten. Furthermore, all four papers focus on recent policy changes to kindergarten that influence what and how much children learn in their early education.
The first two papers examine instructional practices inside the kindergarten classroom. Engel and Claessens utilize data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Studies (ECLS) of kindergarten in two time periods to examine “The Effects of Teachers’ Time Use and Content Coverage on Students’ Socioemotional and Behavioral Outcomes in Kindergarten.” Within this study, Engel and Claessens draw attention to whether the ‘academicization’ of kindergarten benefits student learning. Relatedly, Watts, Farkas, and Duncan present evidence on how changes in mathematics instruction over the past decade relate to kindergarten year achievement gains in mathematics. This analysis ties instructional measures to the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice.
The second two papers turn to recent changes in kindergarten and pre-k education. Fortner and Jenkins leverage a change in the kindergarten entry cutoff date in North Carolina to examine the relationship between 3rd grade test score outcomes for this older cohort of students compared to prior kindergarten cohorts. They also test whether this change resulted in differential effects for subgroups of students (e.g. ‘redshirts’), and influenced outcomes such as designation as a gifted or disabled student. Bassok and Latham’s study uses ECLS data to determine if today’s kindergarteners, overall and by subgroups based on race, SES, etc., know more than kindergartners of 10 years ago in reading and mathematics. They also examine connections between state pre-k policies and school readiness.
Recent policy changes including more rigorous instruction in the early grades, alterations in birth cutoffs to ensure an older average age at kindergarten entry, a focus on common core topics in kindergarten, and increasing investments in early education are all intended to boost educational outcomes for children facing an increasingly challenging global competitive market for future employment. The conference theme, Global Challenges, New Perspectives, certainly reflects the competition which will be faced by the kindergarten cohort of 2014.
We have recruited Damon Cann, a political scientist at Utah State and co-investigator/statistical lead of New Mexico’s K-3 Plus Extended School Year Validation Study to serve as chair of the session. Dale Farran, Vanderbilt University Professor and Senior Associate Director of the Peabody Research Institute, and William Gormley, Georgetown University Professor and Co-Director of the Center for Research on Children in the U.S., will function as discussants for the panel. These additional participants bring knowledge of child policy issues, but a different disciplinary perspective to this varied panel. The lead authors on the four papers represent four different institutions and the full, gender diverse, slate of authors and participants includes students, post-doctoral researchers, and a full range of faculty rank.