The COVID-19 pandemic led to long-term closures of schools and drastic changes in the way educational services were delivered. While children of all ages were affected, those in pre-kindergarten were arguably affected the most severely. The intent of pre-kindergarten (pre-K) is to prepare children for the academic rigors of kindergarten. Kindergarten readiness is described as the minimum set of skills necessary to enable a young child to successfully transition into kindergarten. The educational progress of the children who were temporarily taught at home during COVID-19 depended largely on the ability of their parents to adequately foster education. However, education was not the only vital school-based service interrupted. School closures meant that many children also missed out on free or reduced-priced meals provided by schools, increasing the risk of hunger for children from low socioeconomic backgrounds. The present study, therefore, conducted timely empirical research on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on kindergarten readiness. This study examined the change in kindergarten readiness pass rates from 70 Florida school districts for the school years 2018-2019, 2019-2020 and 2020-2021, and whether or not reliance on free and reduced lunch affected these rates. Mean pass rates increased during the three years. The 2018 school year had a mean pass rate of 51.9 percent, followed by 53 percent in 2019, and 53.9 percent in the 2020 school year. However, the only statistically significant difference was between the academic years of 2018 and 2020. As rates of children receiving free or reduced-price meals increased, pass rates generally decreased. The current study indicates that the COVID-19 pandemic did not negatively impact kindergarten readiness in Florida but being of lower socioeconomic status (SES) negatively impacted the pass rates. Additional research is needed to further investigate findings, including examining the 2021-2022 school year data to learn how the pandemic and SES affect long-term kindergarten readiness.


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Graduation Date





Szente, Judit


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Community Innovation and Education


School of Teacher Education

Degree Program

Education; Early Childhood Education




CFE0009328; DP0027051





Release Date

December 2025

Length of Campus-only Access

3 years

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)

Restricted to the UCF community until December 2025; it will then be open access.