Date of Award

6-1-2014

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Education/Leadership in Urban Schools

First Advisor

Wenfan Yan

Second Advisor

John E. Leonard

Third Advisor

Anne Douglass

Abstract

The current study examines the connection between a change of family income and the retention of academic gains for children in low-income households who have attended a center-based preschool program. These children are often shown to lose the academic advantage they gain during preschool as they move through k-12 education in a phenomenon called fade out. A theoretical framework was constructed positing that material and psychological effects of poverty inhibit the ability of these families to support and maintain growth during this critical time when children are highly nested in the family unit.

Treating family income as a causal risk factor, a study was crafted to examine the fade out effect when family income increased during early childhood for children in low-income households. Using the ECLS-K data set, ex post facto, quasi-experimental methods were employed to analyze two comparison groups of low-income children who went through a center-based preschool program. One group gained the treatment of a constant increase in family income beginning during early childhood (LIP), while the other stayed within their starting low-income bracket throughout the study (LCP). Multiple regression analysis was used to test if this treatment would correlate to the LIP group retaining more of their preschool skills than the LCP group, measuring from kindergarten to eighth grade. Before the main dependent cognitive measures (math and reading scores) were examined, regressions on social competence variables were performed. After examination, these variables were added as controls to the academic regressions.

The results of the academic regressions showed that the LIP group correlated to nearly a one-half reduction in fade out as compared to the LCP group by eighth grade in both mathematics and reading. These findings lead to many implications for researchers, practitioners, and policy makers as well as open the door to future exploration into the subject.