Highlights, Public School Kindergarten Teachers' Views on Children's Readiness for School
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Public School Kindergarten Teachers' Views on Children's Readiness for School
NCES: 93410
September 1993

Characteristics of Public School Kindergarten Students and Classes

Teachers were asked to report on the composition of their kindergarten classes by age and race/ethnicity of students. As of October 1, 1992, 80 percent of kindergartners were 5 years old (Figure 2). The remaining 20 percent were divided as follows: 12 percent were 6 years old, 7 percent were 4 years old or younger, and only 1 percent were 7 or older.1


By racial/ethnic composition, 66 percent of the students were white, non- Hispanic, 17 percent were black, non-Hispanic, 12 percent were Hispanic, 3 percent were Asian or Pacific Islander, and 1 percent were American Indian or Alaskan Native (Table 6). Variations in the percentage of minority student enrollment in the class occurred by school size, metropolitan status, geographic region, and poverty status.

In small schools, 26 percent of the students were racial/ethnic minorities, compared to 51 percent of the students in large schools (derived from Table 6). City schools enrolled the largest proportion of minority kindergarten students (55 percent); the proportion of minority students in other locales ranged from 27 percent in schools in the urban fringe to 17 percent in rural schools.

Geographically, minority enrollment ranged from 44 percent in the West, 36 percent in the Southeast, 28 percent in the Northeast, and 23 percent in the Central region. Minority composition of the kindergarten class and poverty status of the school were related, with a higher proportion of minority students (64 percent) in high poverty schools than in low poverty schools (13 percent).

Kindergarten classes with the highest percentage of minority students had the largest proportion of minority teachers (Figure 3). In classes with less than 10 percent minority children, only 3 percent of the kindergarten teachers were minority. The percentage of minority teachers increased to 7 percent in kindergarten classes with 10 to 49 percent minority enrollments and to 36 percent in classes with 50 percent or more minority enrollments.

Kindergarten Class Characteristics

In the 1992-93 school year, most (97 percent) kindergartens met 5 days a week (not shown in tables). Full-day kindergartens met an average of 31 hours per week. Whereas half-day kindergartens met either 16 hours (when two half-day sessions were taught) or 14 hours (when only one half-day session was taught) per week (Table 7). Teachers reported an average kindergarten class size of 21 students in full day kindergarten classes and 22 students in half day classes. Class size was fairly stable across various school characteristics, with the exception that kindergarten classes in rural schools tended to be somewhat smaller (mean of 18 students) than those in other locales.

Almost two-thirds (61 percent) of kindergarten teachers had the help of paid adult assistants (including co- or team teachers) in their classes during 1992-93 (Table 8). Teachers with paid assistants had 1 assistant, on average, for an average of 13.5 hours per week--or 64 percent of the time that class met. In addition, 49 percent of kindergarten teachers reported having the assistance of at least 1 adult volunteer during a typical week (Table 9). Typically, 3 volunteers, each contributing an average of 3 hours per week, assisted teachers who had access to adult volunteers.

Counting the paid assistants or team teachers, the average student-to-staff ratio (based on full-time-equivalents) for kindergarten classes during the 1992-93 school year was 15 to 1 (Table 8). When adult volunteers were added to the picture, the student-to-adult ratio (also based on full-time-equivalents) was 14 to 1 (Table 9) 2.

1Enrollment was obtained for all children in the kindergarten class. For multigrade classes, both total class size and number of kindergarten students were collected. Age break-outs are reported for kindergartners only.

2The number of paid and volunteer assistants and the number of hours per week each assistant spent in the classroom were obtained on the survey along with total hours the class met. This information was used to compute full-time-equivalents for paid and volunteer assistants. The student-to-staff ratio was computed using total class size. For mixed-grade classes, all students (including nonkindergarten students) were counted. Staff included teachers and paid assistants. In the student-to-adult ratio, total class size was used and adults included the teacher, paid assistants, and adult volunteers.