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ERIC Number: EJ809433
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 22
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 46
ISSN: ISSN-1934-6875
Universal Pre-Kindergarten in Conjunction with Universal Screenings: An Antidote to Grade Retention
Lazarus, Philip J.; Ortega, Patricia
Journal of Educational Research & Policy Studies, v7 n1 p54-75 Spr 2007
The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has ushered in an era of increased accountability and assumed universal proficiency at a time when there is significant variability in children's abilities as they enter kindergarten. Despite NCLB's emphasis on the use of evidence-based practices to improve students' achievement, it explicitly recommends grade retention as an intervention for low performing students, resulting in increased numbers of retained students in the past decade. Not only has the research on grade retention clearly established its ineffectiveness, it has also confirmed its harmfulness. Educators and policymakers have an obligation to develop a variety of alternatives to retention. Many alternatives have been developed and implemented throughout the years, but the true solution to this problem lies in prevention. The most effective way to prevent poor academic outcomes is to provide quality early intervention. High-quality, universal pre-kindergarten programs have been shown to provide children with developmentally appropriate instruction that serves to build pre-reading, pre-numeracy, and pre-writing skills necessary for future school success. This is especially important in order to level the playing field in a country where so many children live in poverty or who are English language learners. Two important facts have emerged in recent years from the research: children are cognitively ripe between the ages of zero and five and not all children are receiving the same quality of cognitive experiences during these years. If high academic achievement is expected, then all children should be afforded the opportunity to receive quality instruction at an early age. Policy makers need to reconsider their position on retention in favor of more evidenced-based practices; namely, universal pre-kindergarten, which is both supported by research and associated with a plethora of positive outcomes. In addition, pre-kindergarten provides a convenient setting in which to implement universal screenings that serve to guide instruction and identify children who may need additional academic support. Research on measures such as Individual Growth Development Indicators (IGDI) that have been designed for use with preschoolers to identify academically at-risk children has shown promising results in terms of reliability and validity, as well as usefulness for modifying instruction in the pre-kindergarten classroom.
National Office for Research on Measurement and Evaluation Systems. University of Arkansas, 346 North West Avenue, 302 WAAX, Fayetteville, AR 72701. Tel: 479-575-5593; Fax: 479-575-5185; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Early Childhood Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001