Gary Dawson

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 2014


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program for Education Leaders (IDPEL)


School of Education

Committee Chair

James E Henderson

Committee Member

Allen Sell

Committee Member

Gibbs Y Kanyongo


Pre-K, Preschool, PSSA, Standardized Testing


The purpose of this study was to determine if attending a four-year-old preschool program had an impact on the academic achievement of elementary age students. With limited funding and the demands of No Child Left Behind legislation, schools are constantly evaluating the effectiveness and cost of ongoing programming. In addition, educational literature points to school readiness as a significant indicator of future student academic success. With this in mind, this study investigated the impact of preschool attendance on student standardized reading and math test scores throughout the elementary age school experience.

The population for this study was comprised of current sixth grade students attending a large middle school in a rural southwestern Pennsylvania school district. From this group a sample was selected. The sample included all students from the population meeting testing criteria and selection requirements. The sampled students were split into two groups comprised of those student who attended a pre-k 4 program and those who did not attend. A multivariate statistical analysis was completed to determine if there was a significant difference between the standardize math and reading scores of the two groups across 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. Also during the analysis, socioeconomic status was evaluated for significant interaction with preschool attendance and as an independent variable.

After analysis, it was found that only during the 5th grade did preschool attendance significantly impact standardized test scores with those who attended preschool scoring higher on the reading portion. However, socioeconomic status did have a significant impact on test scores in both 3rd and 5th grades. The results were somewhat surprising showing socioeconomic status is certainly a variable educators need to be aware of and pre-k 4 attendance showing some impact but not as much as this investigator initially thought.