Measuring success: Within and cross-domain predictors of academic and social trajectories in elementary schooledit
Children’s skill levels in language, mathematics, literacy, self-regulation, and social–emotional adjustment at kindergarten entry are believed to play an important role in determining school success through their long-term association with academic and social skills in primary and secondary education. Hence, children’s school readiness is a national priority. To date, there is some evidence that specific individual school readiness skills relate to specific outcomes, but much of that research has not addressed concerns regarding generalization due to the high levels of correlations among the school readiness skills. The interrelationships among school readiness domains and patterns of skill acquisition – during the first three years of primary education in which basic skills are the focus and in the later years of primary or secondary education when higher-order skills are the focus – have not been explored adequately. Using the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development dataset (n = 1364), this research conducted growth curve analyses to examine a comprehensive set of readiness indicators in kindergarten and identify which domains were stronger predictors of academic and social trajectories through grade 3 and from grades 3 to 5. Results highlight the importance of examining multiple school readiness domains simultaneously rather than separately, and moving beyond outcomes (skill levels) at a particular grade to consider which kindergarten skills predict gains over time (skill acquisition) both within- and across-domains. Empirical and methodological implications are considered for educational research, policy, and practice.