Is Kindergarten the New First Grade?
The study: “Is Kindergarten the New First Grade?” was published in the AERA peer-reviewed journal AERA Open.
- In recent years, parents and teachers have become increasingly concerned about changes in kindergarten classes across the country leading many to wonder if kindergarten has become the new first grade. Recent accounts suggest that accountability pressures have trickled down into the early elementary grades and that kindergarten today is characterized by a heightened focus on academic skills and a reduction in opportunities for play.
- Researchers from the University of Virginia tackled this question by comparing kindergarten and first grade classrooms between 1998 and 2010. They found that over a 12-year period, kindergarten classes have become increasingly like first grade.
- Researchers used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study in 1998 and 2011 to compare kindergarten classrooms between 1998 and 2010. The sample included 2,500 public school kindergarten teachers in 1998 and 2,700 in 2010 and whenever possible, responses from kindergarten teachers in 2010 were also compared to those of first grade teachers in 1999.
- The authors hypothesized that kindergarten classrooms in 2010 would be more focused on literacy and math than those in 1997, because these subjects were specifically assessed by No Child Left Behind.
- Based on the data they examined, the authors found that kindergarten teachers in 2010 have much higher expectations of their students than in 1998 and their classrooms have become more similar first grade classes from the ’90s.
- Specifically, teachers in 2010 are much more likely to believe academic instruction should begin before kindergarten, including an increase in the number of teachers who believe students should know the alphabet and how to use a pencil before beginning kindergarten, both of which rose by 33 Education Research Report: Is Kindergarten the New First Grade?: