Skip to content

How Kindergarten Readiness Impacts Student Outcomes: A Longitudinal Study Examining the K-12 Journey through San Francisco Unified School District

San Francisco has a robust history of investing in early childhood education, preparing its youngest residents for their best start on their academic journeys. Originally funded by First 5 San Francisco, the first representative district-wide kindergarten readiness assessment was conducted in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) in 2009. Building on this initial
effort, this study, funded by the San Francisco Department of Early Childhood, examines the academic achievement trajectories of that 2009 kindergarten readiness cohort to examine how school readiness affects students’ academic outcomes over their K-12 experiences.

In short, this study finds that school readiness matters. Not only are children better prepared for school when they have developed the foundational skills that will support their kindergarten success, but school readiness accrues benefits through to high school graduation in a variety of ways. The more ready a child was in kindergarten, the higher their performance on standardized English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics tests in third grade and through later years. Significant effects of school readiness in kindergarten were found on middle school grade point average, even after controlling for many sociodemographic and school factors. And young students who are more ready to start school in kindergarten are ultimately more likely to graduate high school on time.