Publication Date

April 2016

Advisor(s)

Anna Shusterman

Major

Psychology

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

Preschool helps prepare students with the cognitive and social skills they need to be successful in school. However, many children, especially those from low-income families, do not have access to high-quality preschool programs. Using both quantitative and qualitative measures, this thesis evaluated the outcomes of Kindergarten Kickstart, a research-based summer pre-K program targeting children from low-income families in Middletown, Connecticut with little to no prior preschool experience. Study 1 examined Kindergarten Kickstart’s effects on students’ levels of school readiness. Students (n = 65) were tested at the beginning and end of the program on a broad assessment of school readiness and on assessments of numeracy and executive function. Results indicated that Kickstart students made significant gains on all measures. Furthermore, in 2015, Kickstart students (n = 14) exhibited significant growth on school readiness and executive function compared to students who attended a different local preschool (n = 7). Study 2 used semi-structured interviews to examine the perspectives that Middletown community members (n = 14) held about Kickstart. Participants held overall positive views of the program, reporting that it helped prepare students and their parents for the transition to kindergarten. Taken together, these findings suggest that Kindergarten Kickstart has had positive effects on its students and their families, and provide evidence for the efficacy of a short-term, research-based preschool program. Implications for the field of education are discussed.

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