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Escalating Academic Demand in Kindergarten: Counterproductive Policies

Publisher: The Elementary School Journal, 89
Page Numbers: 135-145

Academic demands in kindergarten and first grade are considerably higher today than 20 years ago and continue to escalate. Downward shifts of what were next-grade expectations into the earliest grades are the result of large-scale social trends, for example, the universality of kindergartens, as well as day-to-day pressures felt by teachers, from accountability gates and demands for acceleration from middle-class parents. Narrow emphasis on isolated reading and numeracy skills is detrimental even to the children who succeed and is especially harmful to children labeled as failures. Policies such as raising the entrance age, readiness screening, and kindergarten retention are intended to solve the problem of inappropriate academic demand by removing younger or unready children. Research evidence does not support the efficacy of these policies. Rather, these practices contribute to the continued escalation of curriculum as teachers adjust their teaching to an older and more able group.