Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Kristina Hesbol, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Duan Zhang

Third Advisor

Ellen Miller-Brown

Fourth Advisor

Nicole Nicotera


Early childhood, Head start, Kindergarten, P-3 alignment, School readiness, Systems


This study explored children’s experiences of instructional alignment from prekindergarten to kindergarten and analyzed the impact of those alignment experiences on children’s school readiness outcomes. The study answered the following overarching research question: Does the alignment of children’s learning experiences between prekindergarten and kindergarten impact school readiness outcomes? Three sub-questions drove the research design: (1) How do children’s prekindergarten and kindergarten learning experiences align; (2) To what extent does the alignment of early learning experiences predict children’s school readiness outcomes; and (3) Does the quality of prekindergarten classroom teacher interactions moderate the impact of any PK-K alignment effects? Using cluster analysis and hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) to analyze data from over 1,300 children in the 2009 Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES), the study found that children have distinct and definable experiences of PK-K alignment. Results also indicated a disparity in children’s PK-K alignment experiences, with Hispanic/Latino children more likely to attend Head Start programs with poor systems transition practices followed by kindergartens with poor classroom structures.

The study found that growth in the use of instructional activity centers from prekindergarten to kindergarten is predictive of better literacy and math outcomes. Findings further suggested that boys, minority students, and children from lower income households are predicted to score lower than girls, white classmates, and higher-income peers across school readiness measures. Findings support the need for equitable transition and alignment practices for children from all racial and ethnic groups. They also argue for an increase in child-directed activity centers in kindergarten. With one exception, the current findings did not support the hypothesis that prekindergarten teacher quality is a moderator of alignment effects on children’s school readiness outcomes. The study presents suggestions for further research.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Margaret Deane Franko


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

161 p.


Early childhood Education, Education Policy