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[Susan notes: Training pre-K to be like K, which is trained to be like 2nd grade, never works for the benefit of children. Putting kids in a preK training that makes them dislike kindergarten is insane.

Here is the Vanderbilt study.]

Submitted to Daily Herald, Columbia, TN but not published
09/29/2015

To the editor

According to a recent study from Vanderbilt University, children who voluntarily participated in a pre-K program did better on kindergarten readiness tests than children who did not do pre-K, but the pre-K advantage was gone by the end of third grade ( Pre-K expansion remains iffy after intensive study of benefits, Sept. 29). The pre-K advantage at entering kindergarten was greatest on tests of literacy, especially on skills-oriented tests such as letter-word identification and spelling. But by the end of grade 2, those without pre-K actually did slightly better on the same kinds of tests as well as on a test of reading comprehension.

The 51-page report does not tell us what methods of instruction were used in the pre-K program, but it is likely that literacy instruction was "training" for the kindergarten readiness test with an emphasis on direct and intensive phonics instruction, judging by the test performance. The results of previous studies show that this kind of training does not contribute to performance on tests in which children have to understand what they read. The Vanderbilt results are consistent with this research.

In addition, the pre-K students also "had poorer work skills..." and felt more negative about school in kindergarten. This could also be a consequence of focusing on test-preparation and not real literacy.

Stephen Krashen


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