Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Sue Poppink

Second Advisor

Dr. Brett Geier

Third Advisor

Dr. James O. Grant


early childhood education, red-shirting, DIBELS, kindergarten, pre-kindergarten, M-STEP


The purpose of this ex post facto causal comparative study is to examine the academic achievement of students entering the educational system, that is, kindergarten, either through pre-kindergarten or no pre-kindergarten. Allowing me to examine “red shirting,” a practice of giving children an additional year, in pre-kindergarten, to mature physically, socially, and academically before entering kindergarten. This study is important to school district personnel and parents whom need to make informed decisions concerning pre-kindergarten programs.

In this study, I compare the elementary academic achievement of students through 3rd grade, who delayed kindergarten entrance with those who did not delay. In an additional analysis, I break the two groups into two more groups: a group whose parents followed the recommendation of the kindergarten entrance readiness assessment proctor, and those who did not.

Overall, a review of the literature regarding school readiness decisions can be divided into the following four themes: (a) kindergarten history (Bryant & Clifford, 1992; Cuban, 1992; Ross, 1976), (b) delaying kindergarten (Aliprantis, 2014; Deming & Dynarski, 2008; Graue & DiPerna, 2000), (c) the impact of pre-kindergarten participation (Datar, 2006; Gormley, Granger, Phillips, & Dawson, 2005), and (d) differences in academic achievement of students who delay and do not delay the start of kindergarten (Aliprantis, 2014; Buntaine & Costendbader, 1997; Magnuson, Ruhm, & Waldfogel, 2007; Raffaele Mendez et al., 2014). None of the studies examined local longitudinal data from a pre-kindergarten program. Also, none compare students who were and were not recommended for pre-kindergarten.

There is a statistically significant difference between the two main groups in the fall and spring of kindergarten. After kindergarten from 1st grade through 3rd grade there is no difference in test scores. There is a difference between all four of the groups during kindergarten in the fall and the spring. But the achievement data from the spring of 1st grade shows no difference between the students who were recommended for kindergarten by the kindergarten readiness screener, regardless of their participation in prekindergarten or not. In spring of third grade there is no difference noted between students who were recommended for pre-kindergarten by the kindergarten screener, regardless of their participation in pre-kindergarten or not.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access