Child, family, and childcare predictors of delayed school entry and kindergarten retention among linguistically and ethnically diverse children

Dev Psychol. 2012 Sep;48(5):1299-314. doi: 10.1037/a0026985. Epub 2012 Jan 30.


Concern about kindergarten retention is on the rise within the current climate of high-stakes testing and escalating kindergarten expectations. Kindergarten retention has been linked in previous research to various risk factors such as poverty, low maternal education, single parent status, minority status, English language learner (ELL) status, and male gender. However, these factors are also associated with poor school readiness and low kindergarten performance--the very reasons children are retained in the 1st place. This study teases apart unique and combined predictors of delayed entry into kindergarten and kindergarten retention with a large (n = 13,191) ethnically diverse, at-risk sample of children. Delayed kindergarten entry was rare for this sample but more likely among boys, native English speakers, those with poorer school readiness, less maternal education, and greater resources, and those who attended childcare rather than public school prekindergarten (pre-K) at age 4 years. Boys were more likely to be retained in kindergarten, but only because of their poorer school readiness. After strong effects for age 4 school readiness were controlled, only poverty, ELL status, and preschool program attendance predicted retention. ELL students were less likely to be retained than were native speakers, and those who attended public school pre-K programs were less likely to be retained, compared with those in childcare at age 4 years. After controlling for children's actual performance in kindergarten their 1st time, Caucasian children and children with lower language and social skills at age 4 years were more likely to repeat kindergarten.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child Care*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition
  • Educational Status*
  • Ethnicity / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language Development*
  • Language Tests
  • Linguistics*
  • Male
  • Motor Skills
  • Reading
  • Risk Factors
  • Underachievement*