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Today’s Kindergarten Classes Have Same Expectations as Last Decade’s First Grade Classes, Researchers Say

Today’s Kindergarten Classes Have Same Expectations as Last Decade’s First Grade Classes, Researchers Say

According to researchers from the University of Virginia, expectations for kindergarten are getting more and more challenging.

So much so, in fact, that kindergarten classes and expectations are very similar to classes and expectations in the first grade classrooms of the 90s.

"The researchers used data from an early childhood longitudinal study in 1998 and 2011 to compare kindergarten classrooms between 1998 and 2010. The sample included 2,500 public school kindergarten teachers in 1998 and 2,700 in 2010,” said US News.

"Specifically, they found that kindergarten teachers in 2010 had much higher expectations of their students than teachers in 1998 and their classrooms had become more similar to first-grade classes from the ‘90s.”

More teachers currently believe that students in kindergarten should learn academic instruction before even entering kindergarten, and that while in kindergarten students should “know the alphabet and how to use a pencil,” as well as should leave the class learning how to read.

This is a sharp contrast from 1998, where only 31 percent of students believed kindergarten students should leave knowing how to read. In 2010, 80 percent of teachers believed the same.

Education legislation, the educators believe, had a lot to do with this change.

“…many of the changes the researchers found track with what was expected of students under the No Child Left Behind Act, the 2001-era federal K-12 law that required schools to assess students in math and reading beginning in third grade,” the article said.

"As a result, the researchers found, the amount of time spent on reading and math instruction increased, particularly on skills that in 1998 were considered too advanced for kindergarten.”

In other words, the education legislation helped morph kindergarten classes into what’s being called “the new first grade.”

Unfortunately, this also resulted in what was noted by researchers as a significant decrease in art instruction and play.

Between 1998 and 2010, the number of teachers reporting daily music instruction decreased by 18 percentage points, and daily art instruction decreased by 16 percentage points. In a similar vein, the number of teachers who spent at least one hour per day on child-selected activities dropped by 14 percentage points and the likelihood that classrooms had discovery or play areas such as a sand table, science area or art area, fell by over 20 percentage points.

Read the full story.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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