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

Children?s Perceptions About Themselves and Their School Experiences

Summary of Findings

Children?s Perceptions in Third Grade

  • On average, children?s scores on the reading, mathematics, and general school scales were high, indicating that they were generally interested in and enjoyed school, and that they did not perceive their schoolwork to be too difficult.
  • Girls tended to have greater interest in and perceived competence in reading than boys.
  • On average, children responded positively on the peer-relationships scale, indicating that they generally made friends easily and got along well with their peers.
  • Black and Hispanic third-graders responded more positively overall on the peer-relationships scale than Asian/Pacific Islander children. After controlling for the other factors, such as the child?s sex, number of family risk factors, kindergarten program type, and school type, Black third-graders still had higher scores on the peer-relationships scale than Asian/Pacific Islander third-graders.
  • On average, scores on the two problem behaviors scales were relatively low, with children generally indicating that they only occasionally exhibited externalizing (e.g., fighting and arguing) or internalizing (e.g., anxiety, sadness, loneliness) problem behaviors.
  • Boys indicated a higher likelihood of exhibiting externalizing behaviors than girls.
  • Black third-graders were generally more likely to indicate that they exhibited externalizing and internalizing problem behaviors than children from other racial/ethnic groups, even after controlling for other factors.
  • As the number of family risk factors increased for third-graders, they were more likely to indicate that they exhibited both types of problem behaviors, even after accounting for other factors.

Children?s Perceptions About School and Their Cognitive Status

  • Those scoring in the highest third on the reading assessment had higher perceived interest and competency in reading than children scoring in the lower two-thirds. The same pattern of relationships between perceptions and achievement occurred in mathematics.
  • The relationship between children?s perceptions and achievement were subject-specific, in that there was no substantive relationship between achievement in one subject area and perceived interest and competence in a different subject area.
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