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Is kindergarten ability group placement biased? New data, new methods, new answers

Half of kindergarten teachers split children into higher and lower ability groups for reading or math. In national data, we predicted kindergarten ability group placement using linear and ordinal logistic regression with classroom fixed effects. In fall, test scores were the best predictors of group placement, but there was bias favoring girls, high-SES (socioeconomic status) children, and Asian Americans, who received higher placements than their scores alone would predict. Net of SES, there was no bias against placing black children in higher groups. By spring, one third of kindergartners moved groups, and high-SES children moved up more than their score gains alone would predict. Teacher-reported behaviors (e.g., attentiveness, approaches to learning) helped explain girls’ higher placements, but did little to explain the higher placements of Asian American and high-SES children.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI)
10.26300/d33y-nh50

This EdWorkingPaper is published in:

von Hippel, P.T. & Cañedo, A.P. (2021). Is kindergarten ability group placement biased? New data, new methods, new answers. American Educational Research Journal. https://doi.org/10.3102/00028312211061410

EdWorkingPaper suggested citation:

von Hippel, Paul T., and Ana P. Cañedo. (). Is kindergarten ability group placement biased? New data, new methods, new answers. (EdWorkingPaper: 20-204). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University: https://doi.org/10.26300/d33y-nh50

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