Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 95, Issue 1, pp 36–50 | Cite as

The Costly Consequences of not Being Socially and Behaviorally Ready to Learn by Kindergarten in Baltimore City

  • Amie F. Bettencourt
  • Deborah Gross
  • Grace Ho
  • Nancy Perrin


Social, emotional, and behavioral skills are foundational to learning and long-term success. However, poverty and exposure to adverse childhood experiences reduce the chances of children entering kindergarten socially-behaviorally ready to learn. This study examined the unique impact of 5-year-old children (N = 11,412) entering kindergarten not socially-behaviorally ready on three costly school outcomes by fourth grade in Baltimore City Public Schools: being retained in grade, receiving services and supports through an IEP or 504 plan, and being suspended/expelled. Controlling for all other types of school readiness, students not identified as socially-behaviorally ready for kindergarten were more likely to experience all three school outcomes. Findings underscore the importance of early prevention and intervention strategies targeting parents and social-behavioral readiness skills during the first 5 years of life.


Social, emotional, and behavioral readiness Poverty Suspension Grade retention Special education services 



We would like to thank the Baltimore Education Research Consortium for their partnership throughout this project, but particularly for providing us access to the data used in this study.


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Johns Hopkins University School of NursingBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, School of NursingKowloonChina

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