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


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.

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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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Correspondence to Amie F. Bettencourt.

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Bettencourt, A.F., Gross, D., Ho, G. et al. The Costly Consequences of not Being Socially and Behaviorally Ready to Learn by Kindergarten in Baltimore City. J Urban Health 95, 36–50 (2018).

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