+ Executive Summary
Organization of the Report
What reading and mathematics knowledge and skills do children demonstrate in the spring of first grade? Do children's knowledge and skills differ by certain child, family, and school characteristics?
What Children Know
When children begin kindergarten, 67 percent recognize their letters. By the spring of kindergarten, most (95 percent) know the letters of the alphabet; and after 2 years of school, essentially all children (100 percent) can recognize the letters of the alphabet. At kindergarten entry, about one-third (31 percent) of children understand the letter-sound relationship at the beginning of words and about one in six children (18 percent) understand the letter-sound relationship at the end of words. By the spring of kindergarten, about three-quarters (74 percent) of children make the letter-sound connection at the beginning of words and just over half (54 percent) of children make this connection at the ending of words. By the spring of first grade, almost all children have mastered these reading skills (98 and 94 percent, respectively) (figure A). By the spring of first grade, about five in six children (83 percent) recognize common words by sight (sight words), and about one-half (48 percent) of children understand words in context (compared to 14 and 4 percent, respectively, in the spring of kindergarten) (figure A, table 1).
By the spring of kindergarten, a large percentage (88 percent) of children understand the concept of relative size (e.g., can count beyond 10 and understand and can use nonstandard units of length to compare objects). By the spring of first grade, most children (96 percent) have mastered ordinality and sequence (the understanding of the relative position of objects); and about three-quarters (76 percent) demonstrate proficiency in adding and subtracting basic whole units. Moreover, by the spring of first grade, about one-quarter (27 percent) demonstrate proficiency in multiplying and dividing simple whole units (figure B, table 2).