Preschool competency in context: An investigation of the unique contribution of child competencies to early academic success

Christine Michele McWayne, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

The present study combined developmental and ecological considerations within a resilience framework to examine the unique contribution of children's multiple preschool classroom competencies to an indicator of early academic success. Participants in this study were 195 Head Start children recruited from 32 classrooms representative of a large, urban school district Head Start program. Participant children were between the ages of 4 ½ and 6 years old, and all were expected to transition to kindergarten the following fall. Teacher observations, teacher behavioral ratings, teacher assistant behavioral ratings, and independent assessments were conducted in the spring with the 195 Head Start children. Contextual information regarding children's preschool classroom quality and neighborhood characteristics were obtained from administrative databases at the school district and through the Cartographic Modeling Lab at the University of Pennsylvania. In this study, two major categories of analyses were employed. Dimensional, or variable-centered analyses were utilized: (1) to ascertain distinct and reliable dimensions of classroom competency for low-income, preschool children, and (2) to determine the unique contribution of these evidence-based classroom competency dimensions to children's early academic success, controlling for child and context characteristics. Typological, or person-centered analyses were then employed to determine the nature of child competency profiles as well as their differential relation to the early academic success indicator. Results from dimensional analyses revealed three reliable and distinct classroom competency dimensions: General Classroom Competencies, Specific Approaches to Learning, and Interpersonal Classroom Behavior Problems. Hierarchical setwise regression analyses revealed that two of the competency dimensions were uniquely associated with children's early academic success, controlling for child and context factors. The Specific Approaches to Learning dimension accounted uniquely for 11% of the variance in the indicator, whereas the General Classroom Competencies dimension accounted for 8% of the variance. Typological, person-centered analyses with these three evidence-based competency dimensions produced seven distinct child competency profiles. Further results revealed that distinctive patterns of classroom competence related differentially to the indicator of early academic success. Implications of these findings for early childhood practice, policy, and future research are discussed. ^

Subject Area

Education, Early Childhood|Education, Educational Psychology|Psychology, Developmental

Recommended Citation

Christine Michele McWayne, "Preschool competency in context: An investigation of the unique contribution of child competencies to early academic success" (January 1, 2003). Dissertations available from ProQuest. Paper AAI3087435.
http://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI3087435

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