Investigating the Pathway to Proficiency from Birth through 3rd Grade
Project Team: 
Claudia Coulton, Ph.D.
Co-Director, Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development; Professor, Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University
Robert Fischer, Ph.D.
Co-Director, Center on Urban Poverty & Community Development; Research Associate Professor, Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University
Seok-Joo Kim, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Researcher, Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development, Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University
Key Words: 
Early childhood
school readiness
third grade reading
social risk factors
Overview: 

The purpose of this project is to address pressing developmental and educational research questions concerning kindergarten readiness and third-grade reading achievement by drawing upon shared data between LEAs and a broad range of agencies that serve young children. The specific aims are to: 1) Assess the practicality of linking early childhood and K-3 student records and potential usefulness of the resulting information to local schools; 2) Determine how individual, family and environmental risk factors in early childhood interact with participation in early childhood education programs to influence kindergarten readiness; 3) Estimate the effects of early childhood risk factors and experiences and kindergarten readiness on student progress over grades 1 to 3; and 4) Identify child-level indices, including kindergarten readiness and reading-growth trajectories, that in their combination accurately predict reading proficiency in third grade. This is a retrospective and prospective longitudinal study of all children entering kindergarten in Cleveland Metropolitan School District in 2007 through 2009 and followed through the 3rd grade. The two major data sources are CMSD student records and records related to early childhood experiences from a multi-agency integrated data system (IDS) built in Cuyahoga County as part of its Invest in Children initiative. Multi-level growth modeling is the primary statistical technique utilized to examine the influence of early childhood risk factors on school readiness and educational progress. The findings will be useful in understanding early childhood risk factors that are predictive of educational disadvantage. Moreover, using Ohio -specific educational data, such as entering kindergarten readiness scores coupled with ongoing reading-assessment data, it is likely possible to identify pro files of children who are most likely to exhibit reading failure at third grade. Such data would be highly influential to addressing the third-grade guarantee by providing schools with guidance on how to identify children most vulnerable for failing to achieve reading proficiency by third grade.