Acknowledgments

+ Executive Summary
 Findings What Children Know What Children Know, by Child, Family, and School Characteristics Summary

Questions

Organization of the Report

+ Measures

Analytic Sample

+ Findings

Summary

 List of Figures Full Report (PDF)
What Children Know, by Child, Family, and School Characteristics

Differences in children's achievement (as represented by their overall achievement score) by their family's poverty status, race/ethnicity, and school type persist from kindergarten through the spring of first grade. However, children's overall reading and mathematics achievement does not vary by their sex (tables 3 and 4).

Differences (or lack of differences) in overall achievement scores only tell part of the story. Another way to think about how certain child and family characteristics relate to their spring achievement is in terms of children's acquisition of specific reading and mathematics knowledge and skills. Whether or not certain groups of children acquire certain skills or sets of skills may add meaning to an overall achievement score difference.

In terms of specific first-grade reading and mathematics skills and knowledge, females are more likely to recognize words by sight and understand words in context than males. Males and females are equally likely to be adding and subtracting; but, in the spring of first grade, males are more likely than females to solve problems that require multiplication and division. Simply stated, by the spring of first grade, females are more likely to be reading and males are more likely to be successful at advanced mathematical operations (i.e., multiplication and division) (tables 1 and 2).

When considering the poverty status of children's families from the kindergarten year, first-graders from nonpoor families are more likely to recognize words by sight than first-graders from poor families. The same is true for addition and subtraction. Moreover, about twice as many first-graders from nonpoor families are proficient at understanding words in context and performing multiplication and division as first-graders from poor families (tables 1 and 2).

There are also differences by children's race/ethnicity. White children are more likely than Black or Hispanic children to recognize words by sight, understand words in context, solve addition and subtraction problems, and solve multiplication and division problems by the spring of first grade. Asian children are more likely than Black or Hispanic children to recognize words by sight, understand words in context, and solve multiplication and division problems. In the spring of first grade, Hispanic children are more likely than Black children to demonstrate proficiency in these particular reading and mathematics areas (tables 1 and 2).

What is the relationship of children's early literacy, approaches to learning, and general health status as they enter kindergarten to their spring kindergarten and first grade reading and mathematics achievement?

Children who recognize their letters, who are read to at least three times a week, who recognize their basic numbers and shapes, and who demonstrate an understanding of the mathematical concept of relative size as they enter kindergarten demonstrate significantly higher overall reading and mathematics knowledge and skills (in terms of an overall scale score) in the spring of kindergarten and the spring of first grade than children who do not have these resources. The same pattern is true for children who frequently demonstrate a positive approach to learning and who are in very good to excellent health as they enter kindergarten (tables 6 and 7).

An analysis of the specific skills children acquire shows that children who recognize their letters, who are read to at least three times a week, who recognize their basic numbers and shapes, and who demonstrate an understanding of the mathematical concept of relative size as they enter kindergarten are more likely to understand the letter-sound relationship at the beginning and ending of words, read words by sight, and understand words in context by the spring of first grade (figure C, table 8). In mathematics, children who recognize their letters, who are read to at least three times a week, who recognize their basic numbers, and shapes, and who demonstrate an understanding of the mathematical concept of relative size as they enter kindergarten are more likely to understand the mathematical concept of ordinality and sequence, successfully solve addition and subtraction problems, and successfully solve multiplication and division problems. The same pattern is true for children who frequently demonstrate a positive approach to learning and for those who are in very good to excellent health as they enter kindergarten (tables 8 and 9, figure D).

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