Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

George Batsche, Ed.D.

Co-Major Professor

Kathleen Hague-Armstrong, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Linda Rafaelle Mendez, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Ferron, Ph.D.


NCLB, preschool, IGDI, DECA, protective factors


Academic achievement has been the focal point in education for decades. In 2001, an Act of Congress was proposed to improve individual outcomes in education through evidenced based research using measurable goals, higher standards, and accountability. This federal legislation, known as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, mandates that all teachers be highly qualified by 2006 and that all students become proficient by the 2013/14 school year, specifically in the area of literacy. Consequently, kindergarten readiness has become an area of concern, thus placing preschool teachers under pressure to prepare children for school. The purpose of this study was to examine multiple factors that have been identified in the literature as impacting achievement in elementary and secondary education to ascertain their contribution toward literacy development in preschool children. Such factors included child (gender, race, home SES, attendance, behavior) and childcare site (teacher education, teacher experience, class size, site SES, class environment). Additionally, within-child protective factors were examined for their role in literacy development for children with and without challenging behaviors.

To examine early literacy and behavior in preschool children, hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) was conducted with literacy skills (expressive language and phonemic awareness) assessed at four points in time though the Individual Development and Growth Indicators (IGDI). A significant relationship was found between expressive language skills and race, attendance, classroom environment and class size. Phonemic awareness was significantly related to gender, home SES, and teacher education. Within-child protective factors positively impacted phonemic awareness skills for children in the non-challenging behavior group only. An in-depth description of the findings and limitations are discussed within this document.

Overall, this study suggests that many of the factors impacting achievement in elementary and secondary education also impact literacy development in preschool children. These findings support the use of early intervention and preventative services for this population as a means to promote kindergarten readiness and future achievement.