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Who's Who in Kindergarten Literacy Skill Groups: What Really Matters?

American kindergartners enter schools with varying levels of emergent literacy skills. The present study examined the nature of variation of these skills through the lens of distinct literacy skill groups. Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study – Kindergarten (ECLS-K) data set, the literacy skill sets of over 10,000 children were examined at kindergarten and third grade. Latent class cluster analysis was used to demonstrate the presence of these groups through the analysis of proficiency probabilities of mastery of the following skills: 1) letter recognition; 2) beginning sound recognition; 3) ending sound recognition; 4) sight word recognition; 5) reading words in context; 6) literal inference; 7) extrapolation; and 8) evaluation. Three groups emerged for kindergarten based on skills 1-5, and three groups for third grade based on skills 4-8. Latent class multinomial logistic regression was used to examine the influence of contextual factors on determining group membership at both time points. Findings indicate that phonological awareness skills have the largest influence on determining literacy skill sets at kindergarten, most children enter kindergarten without mastery of the skills to be ready to learn to read, ethnicity does not have a significant effect once a comprehensive set of contextual factors (i.e., child, family, maternal, school, and family environment characteristics) are considered, and the family literacy environment has one of the strongest effects above and beyond the rest. By third grade, comprehension skills have the largest influence on determining skill sets. As for contextual factors, the patterns of influence appear to be lasting with consistency in group membership over time. Taken together these results have the potential implications supporting parents throughout the nation.
Date January 2015
CreatorsMitchell, E. Imani
Source SetsColumbia University
Detected LanguageEnglish

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