Academic Content, Student Learning, and the Persistence of Preschool Effects

Published in: 
American Educational Research Journal
December 2013
vol. 50 no. 6

Amy Claessens, University of Chicago
Mimi Engel, Vanderbilt University
F. Chris Curran, Vanderbilt University


Little research has examined the relationship between academic content coverage in kindergarten and student achievement. Using nationally representative data, we examine the association between reading and mathematics content coverage in kindergarten and student learning, both overall and for students who attended preschool, Head Start, or participated in other child care prior to kindergarten entry. We find that all children benefit from exposure to advanced content in reading and mathematics and that students do not benefit from basic content coverage. Interestingly, this is true regardless of whether they attended preschool, began kindergarten with more advanced skills, or are from families with low income. Policy implications are discussed.

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