The Influence of Family Demographics and Individual Factors on School Readiness : A Focus on Low-Income Spanish-speaking English Language Learners Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/vd66w4925

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  • English Language Learners (ELLs) represent a culturally and linguistically diverse population in US schools. ELLs enter kindergarten with a range of academic and self-regulation skills, but can face multiple challenges navigating the school context (Zwiers, 2013). Previous research documents that low-income ELLs lagged behind in academic achievement, self-regulation, and English language proficiency when compared to non-ELLs (Fuligni & Howes, 2011; Good, Masewicz & Vogel, 2010; Genesee, Lindholm-Leary, Saunders, 2006; Wanless, McClelland, Tominey & Acock, 2011). Additionally, evidence suggests that family demographic factors, such as parent education, residential mobility, and mother’s employment influence low-income ELLs’ school readiness. This dissertation expands on current literature by exploring these relations in a sample of low-income preschoolers and kindergartners using data from a research-based longitudinal study (the Kindergarten Readiness Study; study 1), and a large statewide assessment in Oregon (the Oregon Kindergarten Assessments; study 2). The first study examined 1) how three demographic factors—parent education, residential mobility, and mother’s employment—were related to the school readiness (early literacy, early math, and inhibitory control) of low-income children in preschool; and 2) how these relations might vary as a function of ELL status. Results indicated that after controlling for age, gender, study location, ELL status, and ethnicity, parent education had a significant and positive relation to early math and early literacy, but not to inhibitory control. The relation between residential mobility and early math, however, varied as a function of ELL status. Specifically, children who were ELLs scored significantly lower on early math for each additional residential move compared to children who were not ELLs. There was not a statistically significant relation between mother’s employment, residential mobility and school readiness (early math, early literacy, and inhibitory control). The relations between residential mobility and early literacy and inhibitory control did not vary as a function of ELL status, nor did the relation between parent education, and mother’s employment, and school readiness. The second study 1) compared how low-income Spanish-speaking ELLs performed on the Oregon statewide Kindergarten Assessments (early literacy, early math and self-regulation) when compared to low-income non-ELLs; and 2) explored the relations between English language proficiency and performance on kindergarten assessment for low-income Spanish-speaking ELLs. Results indicated that after controlling for ethnicity and gender, non-ELLs performed significantly higher than Spanish-Speaking ELLs in early math (administered in English for non-ELLs and Spanish for Spanish-Speaking ELLs) and early literacy (letter names & letter sounds; administered in English for both non-ELLs and Spanish-Speaking ELLs). Differences in self-regulation skills were not statistically significant between Spanish-Speaking ELLs and non-ELLs. Furthermore, children with higher English language proficiency scored significantly higher on measures of early literacy, early math, and self-regulation at beginning of kindergarten compared to children with lower English language proficiency. Overall, results provide an understanding of the influence of family demographic factors and individual factors on low-income Spanish-speaking ELLs’ school readiness. These results can be used to inform policy and practice aimed at supporting low-income Spanish-speaking ELLs and their families as they enter formal schooling.
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