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Trends in Educational Equity of Girls and Women: 2004 - Preprimary and Early Elementary Education

Preprimary and Early Elementary Education

Certain kinds of preschool experiences, such as participating in high-quality preprimary programs and engaging in early literacy activities with parents, are widely believed to help prepare young children for the more structured learning that takes place in elementary school. Therefore, whether males and females have the same access to these kinds of opportunities is of interest from an educational equity standpoint.

In terms of many learning opportunities, males and females start school on a similar footing. In certain other areas, females appear to start school ahead.

Between 1990 and 2001, the percentage of 3- to 5-year-olds enrolled in preprimary programs and kindergarten increased. In 2001, similar percentages of males (63 percent) and females (64 percent) were enrolled in preprimary and kindergarten education (indicator 1). However, in terms of early learning experiences in the home, a higher percentage of females (86 percent) than males (82 percent) had been read to three or more times in the past week (indicator 2). For both males and females, participation in literacy activities generally increased between 1991 and 2001.

General knowledge assessments indicate that males and females are similar in terms of their general knowledge in kindergarten and first grade. Males and females also generally performed similarly on the overall reading assessment; however, higher percentages of females (80 percent) than males (73 percent) could recognize words by sight in the spring of first grade. Males and females had similar levels of sight word recognition in third grade (indicator 3).

Kindergartners who entered in the fall of 1998 increased their overall mathematics performance scores by 10 points by the spring of their kindergarten year compared to their initial assessment. By the end of third grade, these students more than tripled their performance. With the exception of the third-grade assessment, males and females performed similarly on overall mathematics performance. In third grade, males scored higher than females, 87 to 83 (indicator 4). No differences were detected between males and females on any of the assessments of addition and subtraction skills.

  Preprimary and Early Elementary Education