Relationship between education intensity in kindergarten and grade 1 and the academic benefits of attending preschool
Fish, Reva M.
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Using a national sample of students, this study explored whether the positive effect of prekindergarten attendance on reading and mathematics achievement might be strengthened through educational policies and classroom practices which provide a more intense educational experience to children in kindergarten and grade 1. Intensity of education was considered to be a combination of intensity of time allocated to learning and intensity of instruction in the classroom. Intensity of time allocated was determined by attendance in a full-day kindergarten and more than 180 days in the school year. Intensity of instruction was measured by enrollment in a class with 17 or fewer students, presence of an instructional aide in the classroom, and experiencing individual or small group instruction. Few relationships were found between experiencing education intensity and achievement, with or without prekindergarten attendance. Further, most of the statistically significant relationships found indicated that experience of education intensity actually predicted lower gains in achievement in kindergarten and grade 1. Specifically, regardless of prekindergarten attendance, attending a full-day kindergarten was related to greater reading achievement gains in kindergarten and lower reading gains in grade 1. Small group or individual instruction in reading in kindergarten and grade 1 was related to lower gains in reading. Attending prekindergarten followed by enrollment in a small class in kindergarten and grade 1 was related to reduced gains in mathematics in the two grades combined. Effect sizes were generally small to moderate.