This study tested the hypotheses that (a) persistent language difficulties during childhood would predict lower school readiness and (b) language difficulties present just prior to school entry would predict lower school readiness beyond any effects of persistence. The study involved examining indicators of school readiness collected at kindergarten for children exhibiting various histories of language ability based on language measures collected at 15, 24, 36, and 54 months by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development's Early Child Care Research Network. Children (N = 1,064) were classified according to whether they exhibited expressive or receptive language difficulties at each time point measured. The relation between persistence and timing of these difficulties to each kindergarten outcome was studied through a common factor approach for categorical outcomes. Persistence of language difficulties was not generally related to kindergarten outcomes. However, a robust effect was found for timing of language difficulties: Children who exhibited language difficulties at 54 months exhibited significantly depressed performance on measures of school readiness. Findings are discussed in terms of current policy and research concerning kindergarten readiness for children exhibiting risk.