Pre-kindergarten education: Is there a relationship between pre-kindergarten participation and student achievement?

Carol Goldate Barlow

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine if the intervention of attending public school pre-kindergarten had an impact on student achievement as measured by the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP) considering gender, socioeconomic status, and grade retention. This research study included both quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative data included all 2009-2010 fourth-grade LEAP math and English language arts scaled scores collected from a specified public school district. To determine the impact of pre-kindergarten attendance on student achievement, the LEAP scores of students who attended public school pre-kindergarten were compared to LEAP scores of students in the same school district who did not attend pre-kindergarten. Qualitative data included completed teacher questionnaires which related to kindergarten readiness. Frequencies and percentages were given for each of the independent variables. An independent t test found a statistically significant relationship between prekindergarten attendance and student achievement. An analysis of variance (ANOVA) procedure was used to analyze the data as a function of gender, socioeconomic status, and grade retention. The ANOVA comparing LEAP English language arts scaled scores by gender and pre-kindergarten attendance produced a significant main effect. The ANOVA conducted using LEAP math scaled scores by gender was nonsignificant. The ANOVA comparing both the LEAP English language arts scaled scores and math scaled scores by socioeconomic status and pre-kindergarten attendance produced significant main effects. To determine the relationship between pre-kindergarten attendance and grade retention, a cross-tabulation of the data was performed. The qualitative data were analyzed using a simple frequency distribution.