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Predicting Students’ Mathematics Achievement Through Elementary and Middle School: The Contribution of State-Funded Prekindergarten Program Participation

Abstract

Background

Prekindergarten programs are instrumental for smooth transition to the primary grades. Although the prevalence of these programs has expanded, limited studies document the long-term outcomes associated with children’s engagement in such programs and for specific content areas such as mathematics.

Objective

This study predicted the longitudinal mathematics achievement of 458 students as they progressed through elementary and middle school, accounting for their participation in Georgia’s prekindergarten (Pre-K) program at age 4.

Method

Archived academic achievement data in mathematics were extracted from one school district in the southeastern United States. A multilevel approach was employed to account for the nesting of students within schools. Liner and logistic regression analyses were used to examine the long-term relationship between prekindergarten participation and mathematics achievement.

Results

After controlling for the effects of race, sex, and poverty, results indicated that participation in Georgia’s Pre-K program positively predicted mathematics achievement through seventh grade. For fourth through seventh grades, the odds of a Georgia Pre-K participant meeting the state’s academic standards on the statewide standardized test were 1.67–2.10 times greater than the odds for a nonparticipant.

Conclusion

Although the reported effect sizes were small, children’s participation in the Georgia Pre-K program had a long-term influence on their mathematics achievement through elementary and middle school, providing evidence of sustained benefits of a state-funded prekindergarten program. Quality learning experiences during the early years might provide skills and knowledge that serve as building blocks for later mathematics achievement.

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Funding

This study was supported by a grant from Kyung Hee University (KHU-20182224).

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Correspondence to Jisu Han.

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Han, J., Neuharth-Pritchett, S. Predicting Students’ Mathematics Achievement Through Elementary and Middle School: The Contribution of State-Funded Prekindergarten Program Participation. Child Youth Care Forum 50, 587–610 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10566-020-09595-w

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Keywords

  • Opportunity gap
  • Early childhood
  • Mathematics education