Honors Theses


Mary Fuhs, Ph.D.



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Honors Thesis


Preschool in the US is an important, but costly affair for many children. Roberts and Bryant (2011) found that preschoolers who live in homes with a low socioeconomic status (SES) are less likely to perform highly on measures of kindergarten readiness than their peers who come from homes with a higher SES. Previous research has demonstrated that there is a significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and related school closures on children’s academic performance in school. However, there is little that is known about the impact of the pandemic on school readiness skills among children who live in homes with low SES. This study analyzed the academic impact of school closures due to the pandemic on children who live in low-SES homes who were in preschool before or after the pandemic forced school shutdowns. We analyzed cohorts of preschool students who participated in a large-scale longitudinal study of school readiness in 2018 - 2019 and 2021 - 2022. We used the Minnesota Executive Function Scale (MEFS) and Woodcock Johnson Scale to test the children’s’ executive functioning, vocabulary, literacy, and math skills. College students assessed preschool children ages 3-5 in the Midwest. Most of the parents of students we studied had not received a college degree and had an annual income of less than $42,000 a year. Children in the post-pandemic cohort made significantly less gains in their language skills compared to the pre- pandemic cohort. In contrast, children in the post-pandemic cohort made significantly more gains in their pre-literacy skills compared to the pre-pandemic cohort. This indicates that students may need more classroom support in the area of language development as they develop and age through the school system.

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Undergraduate research