Pushing the Boundaries of Education Research: A Multidimensional Approach to Characterizing Preschool Neighborhoods and Their Relations With Child Outcomes

Dana Charles MCCoy*, Terri J. Sabol, Wendy Wei, Andrea Busby, Emily C. Hanno

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

With more low-income children in the United States participating in center-based early childhood education programs than ever before, understanding the features of preschool classrooms that promote positive and equitable outcomes for children is of increasing concern to education researchers. Relatively little empirical work, however, has considered the role that characteristics outside of preschool walls might play in shaping low-income children’s learning and development early in life. This study uses novel administrative data to characterize the institutional resources, indicators of social organization, and structural determinants of development for the neighborhoods surrounding 195 preschools across nine U.S. cities. Using latent profile analysis, preschool neighborhoods were grouped into four profiles reflecting different combinations of community characteristics. These neighborhood profiles predicted low-income preschoolers’ (N = 1,230; M age = 4.18 years) language/literacy, executive function, and approaches to learning at the end of the 2009 or 2010 academic year, with particularly positive outcomes in communities characterized by high physical disorder and unaffordability, as well as in those marked by high community resources and physical order and low residential mobility. Findings highlight the multidimensional realities of low-income children’s preschool community environments and offer new directions for characterizing educational contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Early childhood development
  • Institutional resources
  • School neighborhood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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