Does prekindergarten experience influence children's subsequent educational development? A study of kindergarten teachers' perceptions and students' performance

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Teaching and Leadership


Joesph B. Shedd


Prekindergarten, Children, Educational development, Kindergarten teachers, Literacy

Subject Categories



The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of different types of prekindergarten experience on kindergarten students' educational readiness. Prior studies documented that prekindergarten programs can have positive effects on readiness for and early progress in school (Campbell and Ramey, 1994; Miller and Bizzell, 1983; Weikart, Bond and McNeil, 1978). While these studies made valuable contributions to our understanding of prekindergarten programs, their policy implications have been limited by their measures of readiness (norm-referenced tests or IQ scores unrelated to specific skills expected of children entering kindergarten, or teacher ratings unrelated to direct measures of student performance) and by their failure to distinguish between different types of preschool experiences. This study addresses these limitations by distinguishing between the influence of no, half-day, and full-day prekindergarten experience on children's developmental growth and literacy development using a combination of criterion-referenced assessments of student performance and a survey of teachers' perceptions.

Educational readiness was measured both directly by measures of student performance and indirectly by kindergarten teachers' reported perceptions. A random sample of 346 kindergarten students' performance was measured by using two criterion-referenced assessments, assessing developmental level and literacy development, at the beginning and end of kindergarten. The sample was drawn from the population of all kindergarten students in the Syracuse City School District (a high-needs urban district in upstate New York) who previously attended a half-day or full-day New York State public school prekindergarten program or who had not attended any preschool program. Teacher perceptions were studied using The DeSiato Kindergarten Teacher Perception Student Readiness Survey, which was developed and administered to a random sample of 55 kindergarten teachers in the Syracuse District. The survey included 50 specific indicators of readiness widely discussed in the literature.

This study provides strong evidence that students' educational readiness, subsequent development and literacy are influenced by their type of prekindergarten experience. Students who attended half-day prekindergarten performed better than students with no prekindergarten and students who attended full-day prekindergarten outperformed students with either no or half-day prekindergarten.

This study has significant implications for public policy, school district practice and research on prekindergarten programs.


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