Using 6 longitudinal data sets, the authors estimate links between three key elements of school readiness—school-entry academic, attention, and socioemotional skills—and later school reading and math achievement. In an effort to isolate the effects of these school-entry skills, the authors ensured that most of their regression models control for cognitive, attention, and socioemotional skills measured prior to school entry, as well as a host of family background measures. Across all 6 studies, the strongest predictors of later achievement are school-entry math, reading, and attention skills. A meta-analysis of the results shows that early math skills have the greatest predictive power, followed by reading and then attention skills. By contrast, measures of socioemotional behaviors, including internalizing and externalizing problems and social skills, were generally insignificant predictors of later academic performance, even among children with relatively high levels of problem behavior. Patterns of association were similar for boys and girls and for children from high and low socioeconomic backgrounds.
This is a good article for when the school is saying a student isn't emotionally mature enough yet. One student at the kids' school got held back a year because he's shy. Does the school really ever stop to think that taking the kid out of his normal age peer group and sticking him in a class with kids he has less in common with is going to help?
As expected, the regression results indicate that school-entry reading and math skills are almost always statistically significant predictors of later reading and math achievement, with standardized coefficients ranging from .05 to .53. Not surprisingly, school-entry reading skills predict subsequent reading achievement better than subsequent math achievement, just as early math skills are more predictive of later math than reading achievement.
In the case of attention skills and attention problems, coefficients are usually smaller than those for math skills, but they are statistically significant for more than half of the coefficients. In contrast, coefficients for socioemotional behaviors—externalizing and internalizing behavior problems and social skills—rarely pass the threshold of statistical significance.
Gee, what a surprise, the very things the kids' school seems to care least about in kindergarten: math and reading, are more strongly aligned with higher achievement, while the things the school cares most about: emotions, are not predicative.