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Psychol Sci. 2016 Jan;27(1):53-63. doi: 10.1177/0956797615610882. Epub 2015 Nov 13.

Classroom Age Composition and the School Readiness of 3- and 4-Year-Olds in the Head Start Program.

Author information

1
Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, University of Texas at Austin aansari@utexas.edu.
2
Department of Human Sciences, The Ohio State University.
3
Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, University of Texas at Austin.

Abstract

The federal Head Start program, designed to improve the school readiness of children from low-income families, often serves 3- and 4-year-olds in the same classrooms. Given the developmental differences between 3- and 4-year-olds, it is unknown whether educating them together in the same classrooms benefits one group, both, or neither. Using data from the Family and Child Experiences Survey 2009 cohort, this study used a peer-effects framework to examine the associations between mixed-age classrooms and the school readiness of a nationally representative sample of newly enrolled 3-year-olds (n = 1,644) and 4-year-olds (n = 1,185) in the Head Start program. Results revealed that 4-year-olds displayed fewer gains in academic skills during the preschool year when they were enrolled in classrooms with more 3-year-olds; effect sizes corresponded to 4 to 5 months of academic development. In contrast, classroom age composition was not consistently associated with 3-year-olds' school readiness.

KEYWORDS:

FACES 2009; Head Start; classroom age composition; peer effects; school readiness

PMID:
26566635
PMCID:
PMC4713288
DOI:
10.1177/0956797615610882
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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