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Citation:Zill, N., & West, J. (2001). Entering Kindergarten: A portrait of American children when they begin school. (Findings from the Condition of Education, 2000; NCES 2001-035). Washington, DC: United States Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement.

This report provides another review of findings from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Ð Kindergarten Class of 1998-99 (ECLS-K), a national study of kindergartners, their schools, classrooms, teachers and families sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics. The study began following a nationally representative sample of approximately 22,000 kindergartners in the fall of 1998, with the plan to follow the same cohort of children from kindergarten entry through the fifth grade. Data sources include a series of surveys of family members and school personnel; reviews of school records, including grade reports; and academic skills assessments of participating children. Assessments for students at the kindergarten level were developed specifically for the ECLS and addressed childrenÕs early academic skills in reading, mathematics, and general knowledge. The study also looked at other child outcomes, including social skills, physical health and well-being, and childrenÕs approaches to learning, but these were assessed via parent or teacher report, while cognitive skills and knowledge were assessed directly. Drawing on data from the study, this report provides a portrait of kindergarten children in the areas of reading, mathematics, and general knowledge, as well as noncognitive aspects of school readiness. Findings addressed childrenÕs skills upon entry to kindergarten. Results indicate that childrenÕs reading, mathematics and general knowledge differ according to their age at kindergarten entry, their motherÕs educational attainment, their family type, the primary language spoken in the home and their race-ethnicity. This study identified five proficiency levels for childrenÕs reading and mathematics skills, finding that the typical child at kindergarten entry had attained the first level of reading proficiency and the second level of mathematics proficiency.

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