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Children's Reading and Mathematics Achievement in Kindergarten and First Grade

Acknowledgments

+ Executive Summary

+ Children's Reading and Mathematics Achievement in Kindergarten and First Grade


Questions

Organization of the Report

+ Measures


Analytic Sample


+ Findings

What Children Know, by Child, Family, and School Characteristics

Specific Reading and Mathematics Knowledge and Skills

Literacy

Approaches to Learning

General Health

Effects of Beginning Resources when Controlling Other Factors

Summary


List of Figures

Full Report (PDF)
Line Literacy

Children who recognize their letters, who are read to at least three times a week, who recognize their basic numbers and shapes and demonstrate an understanding of the mathematical concept of relative size as they enter kindergarten demonstrate significantly higher reading knowledge and skills in the spring of kindergarten and the spring of first grade than children who do not have these resources (i.e., the former's t-scores are as much as a full standard deviation higher) (table 6). Further, children who recognize their letters at kindergarten entry are significantly more likely than children who cannot recognize their letters to score in the top 25 percent of children in reading in the spring of kindergarten and the spring of first grade. In fact, 35 percent of children who could recognize their letters at the start of kindergarten scored in the top 25 percent in the spring of kindergarten, versus only 2 percent of children who could not recognize their letters at kindergarten entry. A similar pattern is true in the spring of first grade (34 percent versus 5 percent, respectively) (table 6).

Being read to at least three times a week prior to entering kindergarten and being proficient at recognizing numbers and relative size at kindergarten entry also relate to children's spring kindergarten and first grade reading achievement. Those who are read to at least three times a week are almost twice as likely to score in the top 25 percent in reading than children read to less than three times a week (for spring kindergarten, 27 percent versus 14 percent; for spring first grade, 27 percent versus 16 percent). Also, children who are proficient in their numbers and shapes and the mathematical concept of relative size are more likely to score in the top 25 percent in reading than those who do not possess these skills as they enter kindergarten (for spring kindergarten proficiency in numbers and shapes, 26 percent versus 1 percent; relative size, 37 percent versus 5 percent; for spring first grade proficiency in numbers and shapes, 26 percent versus 2 percent; relative size, 37 percent versus 6 percent) (figure 3, table 6).

Children's ability to recognize their letters as they begin kindergarten, the fact that they are read to at least three times a week as they enter kindergarten, their ability to recognize basic numbers and shapes, and their understanding of the mathematical concept of relative size all relate to their spring kindergarten and first grade mathematics achievement. Children who have these resources score significantly higher in mathematics in the spring of kindergarten and the spring of first grade (i.e., a higher mathematics t-score) than their peers who do not have these skills. Once again, this difference is as much as one standard deviation higher than those children who do not have these resources. In terms of the test score distribution, students with these resources are significantly more likely to score in the top 25 percent in both the spring of kindergarten and first grade than children without these resources (figure 4, table 7).

Another way to think about how certain resources of children relate to their spring achievement is in terms of their acquisition of specific reading and mathematics knowledge and skills. Whether or not certain groups of children acquire certain skills or sets of skills may be more easily understood than differences in standardized test scores. At the spring of the kindergarten year, children who could recognize their letters at the start of kindergarten are about twice as likely (86 percent and 47 percent, respectively) to understand the letter-sound relationship at the beginning of words, and are about three times as likely (67 percent and 26 percent, respectively) to understand the letter-sound relationship at the ending of words as children who could not recognize their letters when they started kindergarten. In terms of their first grade skills, children who could recognize their letters when they started kindergarten are more likely than children who could not recognize words by sight and words in context by the spring of first grade (92 percent versus 63 percent, 60 percent versus 21 percent; respectively). A similar relationship is found for spring kindergarten and first grade mathematics skills (e.g., children who could recognize their letters as they entered kindergarten are more likely than children who could not demonstrate specific mathematical skills-ordinality/sequence, addition/subtraction, and multiplication/division-in the spring of kindergarten and the spring of first grade (table 9).

Figure 5 - Percentage of children demonstrating specific reading knowledge and skills in the spring of kindergarten by whether they were proficient in recognizing their letters at kindergarten entry: Spring 1999
Figure 6 - Percentage of children demonstrating specific reading knowledge and skills in the spring of first grade by whether they were proficient in recognizing their letters at kindergarten entry: Spring 2000

Children who were read to at least three times a week as they entered kindergarten are more likely to have mastered the letter-sound relationship at the beginning and ending of words before they leave kindergarten than children who are not read to at least three times a week (figure 7). Further, children who were read to at least three times a week as they entered kindergarten are more likely to understand words when presented in context in both the spring of kindergarten and the spring of first grade than children who are not read to at least three times a week (table 8). A similar pattern is found for children's spring kindergarten and first grade specific mathematics knowledge and skills (table 9).

Children who could recognize their basic numbers and shapes and understood the mathematical concept of relative size when they entered kindergarten are more likely to acquire more advanced specific reading and mathematics skills later on. For example, children who recognized their basic numbers and shapes and understood the mathematical concept of relative size as they entered kindergarten were more likely than children who had not mastered these skills to understand ordinality/sequence by the spring of kindergarten and the spring of first grade (figure 8, table 9). By the spring of first grade, children who recognized their basic numbers and shapes and understood the mathematical concept of relative size as they entered kindergarten are more than two times as likely to be proficient in addition and subtraction and multiplication and division (figure 9, table 9). A similar relationship is found for spring kindergarten and first grade reading skills (table 8).

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