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From Kindergarten to Third Grade: Children's Beginning School Experiences

Introduction

Limitations

This report provides a detailed description of children?s achievement gains over the first 4 years of school and their achievement status and their perceptions of competence at the end of third grade. However, there are limitations of the data and analyses used in this report. For instance, children?s reported perceptions of their interests and competence may be affected by response bias if the children feel the need to provide socially desirable answers on the SDQ. Steps were taken in the study to reduce children?s concerns, including helpful hints to the children to not worry about anyone seeing or hearing their answers (see Appendix B: Measures and Technical Notes); however, it is not possible to estimate the degree to which such bias may occur.

As noted earlier, the analytic sample used in this report excludes children who were unable to be assessed in English in the first 2 years of the study due to limited English proficiency. At the end of third grade, no children were excluded from the assessments due to language proficiency. However, since children who were previously excluded from the cognitive assessments do not have reading and mathematics scores for all rounds, they were not included in this report.

In addition, many of the differences detected in children?s third-grade achievement were already present in the first month or two of kindergarten, when children were just beginning their school experiences. As an example, private school kindergartners demonstrated higher achievement in reading, mathematics, and general knowledge in the fall of kindergarten than children who attended public schools (West, Denton, and Reaney 2001). Initial differences should be recognized when examining differences in achievement status in the early school grades.

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