Daphna Bassok's Research on Kindergarten Skill Levels Cited in UFT Article


United Federation of Teachers

United Federation of Teachers discusses Curry prof Daphna Bassok's research on rising levels of kindergarten academic skills.

Academic skills rising for youngest students

Low-achieving students entering grade 1 have a greater mastery of basic skills such as letter identification but continue to lag when it comes to advanced skills like text reading, according to D’Agostino and Rodgers.

The researchers attributed the improved performance of today’s entering 1st-graders to more time spent on literacy in pre-K and kindergarten.

Daphna Bassok at the University of Virginia and Scott Latham of Stanford University found a similar trajectory of higher achievement over time in their study of the academic skills of entering kindergarten students. Kindergarten students in 2010 started school more proficient in math and literacy compared with their peers 12 years earlier, the researchers found. The improvement was seen across all groups of students regardless of race or socio-economic status.

Using teacher assessments, the study found that 31 percent of white students entering kindergarten had high math skills in 1998, up from 22 percent in 2010. For black children, the number of children rated as being highly proficient in math rose from 12 to 25 percent.

Bassok and Latham credited some of the improvement to broader preschool attendance and changes in parenting in the recent past. They cautioned that their findings do not make the case for taking a more academic approach to kindergarten. The focus, they said, should continue to be on making kindergarten as engaging as possible for children.