Date of Award

Winter 1989

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Carolyn Mebert


The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effects of a readiness year on children's later school performance and self-concept. An examination of teachers' attitudes towards readiness and expectations for students' performance was also included.

School records of fourth graders in two New Hampshire school districts were examined. Classroom grades, standardized test scores, Gesell School Readiness Test results, age, and sex were recorded for each participating student. A self-perception scale was administered to the students near the end of the third grade.

Teachers in the two districts completed a questionnaire composed of a series of vignettes. Five variables were systematically varied in each of the vignettes: a student's sex, whether or not the child had attended kindergarten, whether or not the child had attended a readiness year, level of academic skills and social maturity (high, medium, or low). For each vignette, teachers rated the extent to which they thought the student would be successful in the coming school year.

Student data were analyzed using a 2 x 2 factorial MANOVA, with placement (readiness or traditional first grade placement) as one variable and chronological age as the other variable. The MANOVA revealed significant differences between the two placement groups on all academic variables; indicating that traditional students scored higher than readiness students on grade point average achievement test scores. Neither the age main effect nor the age by placement interaction was significant.

Self-perception scores showed significant differences between the groups in two areas. In athletic self-perception, readiness students achieved significantly higher scores than traditional students; in behavioral self-perception, traditional students achieved significantly higher scores. Despite the difference in achievement between the two groups, there was no difference in academic self-perception between the readiness and traditional students.

Multiple regression analyses of teacher data showed that success in school was primarily predicted using current academic skills and social maturity.

Results raise questions about the effectiveness of giving "unready" children an extra year before first grade. Discussion centers on alternative conceptualizations of the factors which put children at risk for school failure, and suggestions for future research.