OSR Journal of Student Research

Article Title

Stressed Out Before Kindergarten


The purpose of this study was to examine stress levels presented in prekindergarten readiness assessment. Research findings suggests that kindergarten readiness assessment is highly predictive of later school outcomes yet reliability coefficients in traditional preschool assessments are lower than desired. One hypothesis on why reliability is low is that the child is unfamiliar with the examiner and the testing situation. As previous research indicates a need for better understanding of what factors influence prekindergarten testing performance this study examined how stress was impacted by rapport with the examiner, the amount of preschool experience and prekindergarten readiness skills. articipants included 44 preschool aged children (Mean age = 58 months) and their parents. The demographics match the local community with 55% Hispanic, 5% African American, 32% Caucasian, and 8% other. Procedures: Fifteen minutes after arrival to an assessment laboratory, a saliva cortisol sample was taken from the child. Following the baseline stress sample, the child was allowed to establish rapport with the examiner. Once the examiner felt the child was comfortable in the testing environment, the examiner administered the Pre-Kindergarten Screen. Following the child being asked to identify random letters of the alphabet, a second saliva cortisol sample was obtained. At the end of the assessment the examiner informed the child that they had finished for the day and allowed the child 15 minutes of free play. At the end of free play the final saliva cortisol sample was obtained. Results: A significant reduction in stress over time was found with the highest levels of stress being recorded before rapport was established and the lowest levels of stress being reported at the end of the assessment. The addition of academic testing did not significantly raise stress levels. Children with higher pre-kindergarten skills did not differ in stress levels from those children with lower pre-academic skills. No significant differences were found based on 1) gender or ethnicity, 2) the amount of preschool experience, or 3) the types of preschool attended. We believe these findings highlight the importance of establishing rapport with young children prior to assessment starting.

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