Was Kindergarten Left Behind?: Examining U.S. Kindergarten as the New First Grade in the Wake of No Child Left Behind

  • Melia Eileen Repko-Erwin University of Colorado Boulder
Keywords: Kindergarten, United States Federal Education Policy, Early Literacy, School Readiness, Developmentally Appropriate Practice


Since the passage of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in 2001, public schools in the United States have witnessed an influx of reforms intended to elevate students’ academic standing in a global economy. The unprecedented federal involvement in education resulting from the passage of NCLB has propelled a nationwide movement to standardize instruction, raise achievement levels, and hold schools accountable for improved student outcomes. The kindergarten classroom has not been immune to these efforts. This critical review of literature published within the years 2001-2016 synthesizes empirical and theoretical research centered on US kindergarten post-NCLB. Connecting NCLB’s increased emphasis on standards and accountability to issues of kindergarten readiness, the role of academics, play, and developmental appropriateness in kindergarten, and changes in kindergarten literacy instruction, the author examines the complicated nature of teaching and learning in kindergarten in the wake of NCLB, with implications for research, policy, and practice.

Author Biography

Melia Eileen Repko-Erwin, University of Colorado Boulder
Melia Repko-Erwin is a doctoral candidate in Curriculum & Instruction, Literacy Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her research interests center on early literacy instruction, literacy policy, and teacher education. Her twelve years of experience as a K-8 teacher and instructional coach have shaped her commitment to supporting teachers to provide more equitable literacy instruction in this era of standardization and high-stakes accountability.