Highlights, Public School Kindergarten Teachers' Views on Children's Readiness for School
Skip Navigation
small NCES header image
Public School Kindergarten Teachers' Views on Children's Readiness for School
NCES: 93410
September 1993

Background

When the National Education Goals were set by the President and 50 state Governors in 1990, the first goal stated that "by the year 2000 all children in America will start school ready to learn." At present, there is no direct measure of school readiness, nor is there common agreement on the qualities of early learning and development that are critical for school readiness or on the activities that foster readiness. Although some qualities have been identified as important, no consensus has emerged on the degree of importance. For example, is it more important to know the letters of the alphabet and how to count or to have an enthusiastic and curious approach to learning? How should parents and teachers and schools help to develop readiness? Do teachers perceive "readiness" as a single attribute or a set of dimensions of early learning and development to be nurtured? The latter view may influence whether teachers think children should be enrolled in kindergarten even if they seem "unready."

As one step in the process of developing consensus on the definition of school readiness, the National Education Goals Panel requested a survey about the current beliefs and professional judgments of public school kindergarten teachers regarding school readiness. Conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics in spring 1993, the survey covered three general areas:

  • Public school kindergarten teachers' judgments and beliefs about school readiness,
     
  • The characteristics of their kindergarten classes and their practices in these classes, and
     
  • Public school kindergarten teachers' background characteristics.

The portion of the survey used to measure teachers' beliefs about school readiness contained two major items: the first asked teachers to indicate agreement or disagreement with a number of statements regarding readiness, including items about how to facilitate learning, and the second asked teachers to rate the importance of various qualities for school readiness. These items were adapted from measures used by Stipek et al. (1992) and Milburn ( 1992) in their studies of preschools and parents of preschoolers in the Los Angeles area.

Teachers were asked to provide the following information on the characteristics of their classes and teaching practices: type of class (regular kindergarten, transitional kindergarten, transitional first grade, or ungraded or mixed-grade class with at least some kindergarten students), whether the class met full- or half-day, the number of hours of class per week, the racial/ethnic composition of the class, the age distribution of the class, and the amount of assistance the teachers received, either through paid assistants or adult volunteers. In addition, teachers were asked how often their classes participated in various types of activities.

Teachers were also asked to describe their background and characteristics including: race/ethnicity, teaching experience, preparation in early childhood education, and membership in professional associations for early childhood education.

Because this study was exploratory in nature, the data were analyzed by numerous variables to see if responses varied by school or teacher characteristics. The following characteristics were used as independent variables:

School Characteristics

  • School enrollment size: less than 500 (small), 500 to 749 (medium), and 750 or more (large). This variable was obtained from the Common Core of Data (CCD) Universe of Public Schools.
     
  • School kindergarten enrollment: less than 60,60 to 99, 100 or more, This is the total number of kindergarten students in the school and was obtained from principals during collection of the lists of kindergarten teachers.
     
  • Kindergarten class size: less than 20, 20 to 25, 26 or more. This variable was obtained from teachers in the survey.
     
  • Metropolitan status of school: city, urban fringe, town, rural. This variable was obtained from the CCD Universe of Public Schools. Metropolitan status categories are defined in the survey methodology section of this report.
     
  • Region: Northeast, Central, Southeast, West, based on the National Assessment for Educational Progress definitions of region. A list of states in each region appears in the survey methodology section of this report.
     
  • Percentage of students in the school eligible for free or reduced price lunches: less than 20 percent, 20 to 49 percent. and 50 percent or more. This variable, which was obtained from principals during list collection, is used as a proxy measure for poverty status with the categories indicating low, medium, and high poverty.
     
  • Percentage minority enrollment in class: less than 10 percent (low), 10 to 49 percent (medium), and 50 percent or more (high). This variable was obtained from teachers in the survey.
     

Teacher Characteristics

  • Years teaching kindergarten: less than 5 years, 5 to 10 years, and 11 or more years. This variable was obtained from teachers in the survey.
     
  • Teaching assignment: taught full-day class, taught two half-day classes (i.e., both morning and afternoon sessions in a school with half-day kindergartens), and taught one half-day class (i.e., either morning session or afternoon session. but not both). This variable was obtained from teachers in the survey.
     
  • Major in early childhood education: yes. no. This variable was obtained from teachers in the survey.
     
  • Member of early childhood education professional association: yes, no. This variable was obtained from teachers in the survey.
     
  • Number of early childhood education courses taken in college or graduate school: less than 5,5 to 9, 10 or more. This variable was obtained from teachers in the survey.
     
  • Race/ethnicity: white, non-Hispanic; Black, non-Hispanic; and all other races. This variable was obtained from teachers in the survey. The survey obtained information on all five racial/ethnic categories, but there were too few teachers in the other categories to report separately.

Data have been weighted to national estimates of public school kindergarten teachers (Table 1). Items dealing with kindergarten classes and students were weighted to national estimates of public school kindergarten classes. All statements of comparison made in this report have been tested for statistical significance through chi-square tests or tests adjusted for multiple comparisons using the Bonferroni adjustment and are significant at the .05 level or better. However, not all statistically different comparisons have been presented, since some were not of substantive importance.

Top


Would you like to help us improve our products and website by taking a short survey?

YES, I would like to take the survey

or

No Thanks

The survey consists of a few short questions and takes less than one minute to complete.