, Volume 40, Issue 5, pp 715-725
Date: 11 Jan 2012

Relating Kindergarten Attention to Subsequent Developmental Pathways of Classroom Engagement in Elementary School

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We examine the relationship between children’s kindergarten attention skills and developmental patterns of classroom engagement throughout elementary school in disadvantaged urban neighbourhoods. Kindergarten measures include teacher ratings of classroom behavior, direct assessments of number knowledge and receptive vocabulary, and parent-reported family characteristics. From grades 1 through 6, teachers also rated children’s classroom engagement. Semi-parametric mixture modeling generated three distinct trajectories of classroom engagement (n = 1369, 50% boys). Higher levels of kindergarten attention were proportionately associated with greater chances of belonging to better classroom engagement trajectories compared to the lowest classroom engagement trajectory. In fact, improvements in kindergarten attention reliably increased the likelihood of belonging to more productive classroom engagement trajectories throughout elementary school, above and beyond confounding child and family factors. Measuring the development of classroom productivity is pertinent because such dispositions represent precursors to mental health, task-orientation, and persistence in high school and workplace behavior in adulthood.