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2006Research Conference | June 15–16

This conference highlighted the work of invited speakers, independent researchers who have received grant funds from the Institute of Education Sciences, and trainees supported through predoctoral training grants and postdoctoral fellowships. The presentations are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Education or the Institute of Education Sciences.
Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill
400 New Jersey Avenue, N.W.
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Inspiring Inquiry: Transitioning to School: Describing the Classroom Environment of Rural, Low-Income Children in Kindergarten and 1st Grade

Kerry G. Hofer, Vanderbilt University

Abstract: The goal of this study was to describe the moderating effect of the subsequent classroom environment on skills attained in preschool. Data for this research was collected as part of a larger project funded by the Institute of Education Sciences' Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research study. The original project is a longitudinal study examining differential effects of pre-kindergarten curricula on children's later success in formal schooling years. This sub-study involved collected observations from 75 kindergarten and 107 1st grade classrooms containing children from the original set of 36 Pre-K classrooms. Researchers collected observational data in the kindergarten and 1st grade classrooms that included information such as instructional mode, instructional type, teacher instructional level, and child involvement level. The observation data from this study provide a detailed description of the classroom environments that children experience in kindergarten and 1st grade in 7 school systems serving children from rural low-income families. Many preschool and pre-kindergarten programs use school readiness as their primary outcome goal. This creates a question involving what children are actually expected to do once they enter the school system. This study describes what children in the school systems observed are doing in their classrooms. With further analyses that should be completed by the time of presentation, I will examine variations in these classroom environments as they interact with children's continuing progress in school, as well as whether some kindergarten classroom profiles involve more appropriate practices for young children and might be more facilitative of the transition from preschool to kindergarten.