Published Online: January 12, 2016
Published in Print: January 13, 2016, as Early Childhood

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Early Childhood

"Is Kindergarten the New 1st Grade?"

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The modern kindergarten classroom looks more like 1st grade did 15 years ago, according to a longitudinal study in the online journal AERA Open.

University of Virginia researchers compared more than 5,000 nationally representative public school kindergarten classrooms in the federal Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. In an expanded version of an earlier working paper on the topic, they compared reports by kindergarten teachers in 2010 to those of both kindergarten teachers in 1998 and 1st grade teachers in 1999.

Kindergarten teachers in 2010 reported spending significantly less class time on art, music, science, and free play than did teachers in 1998.

Modern teachers also reported higher academic expectations for their students in both literacy and math than kindergarten teachers of prior years; their expectations more closely matched those of 1st grade teachers in 1999.

The percentage of teachers who expected their students to leave kindergarten able to read, for instance, rose from 31 percent in 1998 to 80 percent in 2010.

Vol. 35, Issue 17, Page 4

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