Date of Award

Spring 1998

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services - Urban Education

Committee Director

Jane M. Hager

Committee Member

Stephen W. Tonelson

Committee Member

Rebecca S. Bowers

Committee Member

Mary E. Yakimowski

Committee Member

Donna B. Evans


The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of an early childhood preschool program on the achievement, attendance, and attitudes of at-risk students in an urban Southeastern school division in Virginia. The study compared two groups of Title I eligible four-year-olds, those who participated (n = 88) and those who did not non-participate (n = 54), in a preschool program. A review of the literature revealed that early intervention efforts have addressed the school success dilemma for at-risk students with varying degrees of effectiveness. Increased attention toward the implementation of developmentally appropriate learning environments have afforded at-risk students academic gains which appear to close the achievement gap between them and their peers during the early childhood years (preschool through third grade).

Independent t-tests were used to analyze third grade attendance (days present in school), academic achievement (end-of-year grades), and Stanford Achievement results in reading, mathematics, and language for students in each of the two groups. A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) also was used to analyze attitudes toward learning (School Attitude Measure).

The findings failed to reject the two null hypotheses in this study with respect to attendance and attitudes toward learning. However, in two areas, mathematics grades earned and reading scores on the Stanford Achievement Test, the non-participating group evidenced significantly higher performance. The hypothesis with respect to achievement is consistent with findings in the literature which indicate that academic gains made begin to diminish three to four years after the intervention. Implications along with future avenues of research are presented.


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