Link to full text: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0190740923000075
Access: Institutional Access
study descriptionData Linkage
core topic(s)Early Literacy
Population CharacteristicsKindergarten , Poverty/Low-Income , Race, Ethnicity, and Culture
Exposures, Outcomes, OtherDisparity/Adversity , Language and Literacy Development , Libraries and Public Resources , School Readiness and Educational Outcomes
objectivesThe primary objective of our paper is to examine the extent to which race modifies the relationship between program participation and PALS scores.
exposureEconomic insecurity and racial/ethnic identity
outcomes evaluatedAcademic achievement
settingKindergarten students entering Virginia public schools from 2014-2017.
methodsUsing child-level data from Virginia, we document differences at these intersections for children in kindergarten, focusing on the link between social program participation (TANF, SNAP, eligible for free/reduced-price school meals) and literacy and phonological awareness skills, attending to variation between programs and by race/ethnicity.
sample sizen=296,433 (kindergarteners); n=1,044 (schools); n=135 (School districts)
- Measure of Child Phonological Awareness and Literacy: the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening Kindergarten exam (PALS-K), to assess several domains that are predictive of future reading achievement, including tasks related to early literacy skills (alphabet recognition, letter sounds, invented spelling, concept of word, and word recognition) and phonological awareness (identifying rhymes and sounds).
- Measure of Program Participation: multiple variables capture children’s observed eligibility or participation in case and food assistance programs (ie SNAP, TANF, FRPL, VDSS).
resultsWe first compare children in households receiving no, and relatively low, medium, and high support, finding literacy and phonological awareness skills are greatest among children that do not participate in any of the three social programs considered, followed by those who are only eligible for free/reduced-price school meals, and then those who participate in SNAP, and finally those who participate in TANF. These differences are likely to reflect differences in household resources.
conclusionsThe primary objective of our paper is to examine the extent to which race modifies the relationship between program participation and PALS scores, and we find that it does; Black and Asian children who participate in public supports typically outperform similar program-participating White children, with Hispanic children lagging further behind.
limitationsFirst, we observe program take-up (or certified eligibility for FRPL) not underlying eligibility for each program...Second, due to income eligibility criteria, participants could be “negatively selected” into social program participation and our measures could be markers of economic vulnerability...Third, we only include outcomes tied to performance on a phonological awareness and literacy exam administered in the fall of the kindergarten year...Fourth, our study documents patterns in one southeastern state, albeit one with a diverse population that nearly mirrors the U.S. in terms of racial composition and in which one in seven residents live in a nonmetropolitan county.