Preschool gains add up, study indicates

By ANJETTA MCQUEEN

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Like most kindergartners, Daniel Hartman is learning his letters, words and numbers. As evidence of the potential for learning in formal schooling before the mandatory first grade, the 6-year-old also recites his lessons in English and Spanish.

Kindergarten is more than just kids’ stuff, says his father, Andrew, a literacy expert. A six-year federal study of 22,000 children backs him up with a glimpse of just how much children learn in public and private kindergartens.

"Learning can’t start too early," Hartman said.

Tracking the same 22,000 students for a second year, the Education Department study shows that five times as many could do simple addition and subtraction as a year earlier. Twice as many could recognize letters of the alphabet.

The Education Department-funded study offers no comparison with children who do not attend kindergarten, but officials said the first-ever look attempts to show what children know when they enter school and how that knowledge is shaped throughout their early school years.

Results of the study, which will follow the same children through the fifth grade, also could help advocates make a case for allocating to early childhood education more money for research and better programs.

"Kindergarten is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do," Education Secretary Richard Riley said. "It’s helping (all) children … pick up basic verbal and math skills."

Under the project, students will be tested regularly in math and reading and observed for physical well-being, social development and other factors that researchers say affect learning.

In the current study, by the end of kindergarten, 94 percent of the children could recognize letters, compared with 65 percent when they entered. Children who could recognize simple words rose from 2 percent to 13 percent. Math test scores rose eight points; reading scores increased 10 points.

While poor children did worse than others on academics and readiness for school, results showed that all kindergartners increased their knowledge and skills regardless of how much they knew at enrollment.

Children who are poor, non-English speaking or living with single or poorly educated parents had trouble catching up in their first year of school. They did not improve as much as better-off peers in advanced skills, such as solving math problems, the study said.

Though the German-born kindergarten program of developmental play, song and stories dates from the 1800s, it is far from universally embraced. All states provide kindergarten, and even pay for a half-day of it, but just 12 states and the District of Columbia require kindergarten before allowing a child to enter regular school. Kindergarten is not mandatory in Washington state.

Four million children are eligible each year for preschool or kindergarten, the department said. Only two-thirds of them are enrolled.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Traffic idles while waiting for the lights to change along 33rd Avenue West on Tuesday, April 2, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lynnwood seeks solutions to Costco traffic boondoggle

Let’s take a look at the troublesome intersection of 33rd Avenue W and 30th Place W, as Lynnwood weighs options for better traffic flow.

A memorial with small gifts surrounded a utility pole with a photograph of Ariel Garcia at the corner of Alpine Drive and Vesper Drive ion Wednesday, April 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Death of Everett boy, 4, spurs questions over lack of Amber Alert

Local police and court authorities were reluctant to address some key questions, when asked by a Daily Herald reporter this week.

The new Amazon fulfillment center under construction along 172nd Street NE in Arlington, just south of Arlington Municipal Airport. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald) 20210708
Frito-Lay leases massive building at Marysville business park

The company will move next door to Tesla and occupy a 300,0000-square-foot building at the Marysville business park.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Oso man gets 1 year of probation for killing abusive father

Prosecutors and defense agreed on zero days in jail, citing documented abuse Garner Melum suffered at his father’s hands.

Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin steps back and takes in a standing ovation after delivering the State of the City Address on Thursday, March 21, 2024, at the Everett Mall in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
In meeting, Everett mayor confirms Topgolf, Chicken N Pickle rumors

This month, the mayor confirmed she was hopeful Topgolf “would be a fantastic new entertainment partner located right next to the cinemas.”

Alan Edward Dean, convicted of the 1993 murder of Melissa Lee, professes his innocence in the courtroom during his sentencing Wednesday, April 24, 2024, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Bothell man gets 26 years in cold case murder of Melissa Lee, 15

“I’m innocent, not guilty. … They planted that DNA. I’ve been framed,” said Alan Edward Dean, as he was sentenced for the 1993 murder.

FILE - A Boeing 737 Max jet prepares to land at Boeing Field following a test flight in Seattle, Sept. 30, 2020. Boeing said Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, that it took more than 200 net orders for passenger airplanes in December and finished 2022 with its best year since 2018, which was before two deadly crashes involving its 737 Max jet and a pandemic that choked off demand for new planes. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Boeing’s $3.9B cash burn adds urgency to revival plan

Boeing’s first three months of the year have been overshadowed by the fallout from a near-catastrophic incident in January.

Police respond to a wrong way crash Thursday night on Highway 525 in Lynnwood after a police chase. (Photo provided by Washington State Department of Transportation)
Bail set at $2M in wrong-way crash that killed Lynnwood woman, 83

The Kenmore man, 37, fled police, crashed into a GMC Yukon and killed Trudy Slanger on Highway 525, according to court papers.

A voter turns in a ballot on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024, outside the Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
On fourth try, Arlington Heights voters overwhelmingly pass fire levy

Meanwhile, in another ballot that gave North County voters deja vu, Lakewood voters appeared to pass two levies for school funding.

Judge Whitney Rivera, who begins her appointment to Snohomish County Superior Court in May, stands in the Edmonds Municipal Court on Thursday, April 18, 2024, in Edmonds, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Judge thought her clerk ‘needed more challenge’; now, she’s her successor

Whitney Rivera will be the first judge of Pacific Islander descent to serve on the Snohomish County Superior Court bench.

In this Jan. 4, 2019 photo, workers and other officials gather outside the Sky Valley Education Center school in Monroe, Wash., before going inside to collect samples for testing. The samples were tested for PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, as well as dioxins and furans. A lawsuit filed on behalf of several families and teachers claims that officials failed to adequately respond to PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, in the school. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Judge halves $784M for women exposed to Monsanto chemicals at Monroe school

Monsanto lawyers argued “arbitrary and excessive” damages in the Sky Valley Education Center case “cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny.”

Mukilteo Police Chief Andy Illyn and the graphic he created. He is currently attending the 10-week FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. (Photo provided by Andy Illyn)
Help wanted: Unicorns for ‘pure magic’ career with Mukilteo police

“There’s a whole population who would be amazing police officers” but never considered it, the police chief said.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.