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Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010–11 (ECLS–K:2011)

1. Overview

ECLS kindergarten cohorts collect data from:
  • Children
  • Parents/guardians
  • Before- and after-school care providers
  • Teachers
  • School administrators

The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS) program currently includes three cohorts: a birth cohort and two kindergarten cohorts (the kindergarten class of 1998‑99 and the kindergarten class of 2010‑11). The birth cohort study (ECLS‑B) followed a sample of children born in 2001 from birth through kindergarten; the first kindergarten study (ECLS‑K) followed a sample of children who were in kindergarten in the 1998‑99 school year through spring 2007, when most students were in the eighth grade; and the second kindergarten study (ECLS‑K:2011) followed a sample of kindergartners in the 2010‑11 school year through spring 2016, when most students were in the fifth grade. Currently in development is the fourth ECLS program study, the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2022‑23 (ECLS‑K:2023). The ECLS provides comprehensive and reliable datasets with information about the ways in which children are prepared for school and how children develop within their family, early childhood, and school environments.


The ECLS program provides national data on (1) children’s status at birth and at various points thereafter; (2) children’s transitions to nonparental care, early education programs, and school; and (3) children’s experiences and growth through the eighth grade. These data enable researchers to test hypotheses about the associations and interactions of a wide range of family, school, community, and child characteristics with children’s development, early learning, and performance in school.


The ECLS currently has three cohort studies—two kindergarten cohort studies (ECLS‑K and ECLS‑K:2011) and a birth cohort study (ECLS‑B)—and each of these has its own components. As mentioned above, another ECLS kindergarten cohort study is in development. This chapter describes the kindergarten class of 2010–11 study, ECLS-K:2011. For details on the first kindergarten cohort study, see the handbook chapter for ECLS‑K. Details on the birth cohort study can be found in the ECLS‑B handbook chapter.

The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010‑11. The ECLS‑K:2011 collected data on children’s cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development from the children, their families, classroom teachers, special education teachers, school administrators, and before‑ and after‑school care providers. Information was also collected on the children’s home environment, including home educational activities; their school environment ; their classroom environment, including classroom curriculum; their teachers’ background; and before‑ and after‑school care in kindergarten.

Direct child assessments. The direct child assessments measured reading, mathematics, and science knowledge and skills, as well as executive function‑executive function is “the capacity to plan, organize, and monitor the execution of behaviors that are strategically directed in a goal‑oriented manner” (NIH, n.d.). The kindergarten science assessment was only administered in the spring. Also in the kindergarten and first‑grade years, Spanish‑speaking English language learner (ELL) children who did not achieve a minimum score on assessment items measuring their basic English language skills as based on an English language screener had their Spanish early reading skills assessed. The language screener was not administered beyond the spring of first grade.

With the exception of the one‑stage kindergarten science assessment, all direct cognitive assessments were two‑stage assessments. For these assessments, the first stage was a routing section that included items covering a broad range of difficulty. A child’s performance on the routing section in reading, mathematics, or science determined which one of three second‑stage tests (low, middle, or high difficulty) the child was administered in that domain. The second‑stage tests varied by level of difficulty so that a child would be administered questions appropriate to his or her demonstrated level of ability for each of these cognitive domains.

Beginning in the spring third‑grade data collection, ECLS‑K:2011 children completed a self‑administered questionnaire themselves. Topics on the child questionnaire varied by round and included interest and perceived competence in reading, math, and science; relationships with peers; social distress; occurrences of peer victimization; life satisfaction; prosocial behavior; and school liking and behavioral engagement.

In addition to the cognitive components and child questionnaire, all children had their height and weight measured in all rounds of data collection. In the fall second‑grade data collection, a subsample of the children also had their hearing evaluated by specially trained health technicians. Hearing evaluations were again conducted with this subsample of students in the third‑ and fifth‑grade data collections.

Parent interviews. Information was collected from parents/guardians at each round of data collection using computer‑assisted interviews (CAIs), primarily conducted via phone. The parent interviews contained items on a variety of topics including family structure, family literacy practices, parental involvement in the child’s education, child experiences during the summer, nonparental care arrangements, household composition, family income, parent education level and employment, and other demographic indicators. Parents were also asked to report on their children’s health, socioemotional well‑being, and disability status.

Classroom teacher questionnaires. Teachers were asked to complete hard‑copy, self‑administered questionnaires at each round of data collection to provide information about the children they taught, the children’s learning environment, and themselves. More specifically, they were asked about their own backgrounds, teaching practices, and experience. They were also asked to provide information on the classroom experiences for the sampled children they taught and to evaluate each sampled child on a number of critical cognitive and noncognitive dimensions.

Special education teacher questionnaires. Special education teachers and related service providers of sampled children who had an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or equivalent program on record with the school were asked to provide information on the nature and types of services provided to the children, as well as on their own background and experience. Information was collected from special education teachers via hard‑copy, self‑administered questionnaires during spring data collections.

School administrator questionnaires. School administrators were asked to provide information on the physical, organizational, and fiscal characteristics of their schools, and on the schools’ learning environment and programs. School administrators also provided information on their own background and experience. Information was collected from school administrators via hard‑copy, self‑administered questionnaires during spring data collections. In first through fourth grade, two versions of the questionnaire were used: (1) a version for schools that were new to the study or for which a completed school administrator questionnaire was not previously received and (2) a shorter version for schools for which a school administrator questionnaire had previously been completed. In the fifth‑grade year, all schools were asked to complete the longer questionnaire to provide the most current data possible at the study’s end point.

Before‑ and after‑school care provider questionnaires. The kindergarten before‑ and after‑school care (BASC) component collected important information about children’s environments and experiences in nonparental care with regular before‑ and after‑school care providers. Adults other than the child’s parents/guardians who cared for the study child for at least 5 hours per week were asked to provide information such as the location where care was provided, children’s activities while in care, characteristics of other children in care, and their own background and experience. The BASC component was only included during the spring kindergarten round.




The ECLS‑K:2011 data were collected in the fall and the spring of kindergarten (2010–11), the fall and the spring of first grade (2011–12), the fall and spring of second grade (2012‑13), the spring of third grade (2014), the spring of fourth grade (2015), and the spring of fifth grade (2016).

The fall direct child assessments were conducted from August through December and the spring direct child assessments were conducted from March through June.

Data Availability

Public‑ and restricted‑use data are available for the ECLS-K:2011 through the spring 2016 collection, when most of the students were in fifth grade. Data can be found at