Associations Between Problem Behaviors and Early Vocabulary Skills Among Hispanic Dual-Language Learners in Pre-K

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This study examined the relations between problem behaviors and early learning outcomes among 138 children in dual-language pre-K programs who were identified at the beginning of the school year to be at risk for difficulties in early language and literacy development. Children’s expressive and receptive vocabulary, listening comprehension, and conceptual thinking skills were assessed at the beginning of pre-K and again at the end of the school year. Their problem behaviors (externalizing, bullying, hyperactivity, and internalizing) were assessed midyear via teacher ratings. With the exception of internalizing problem behaviors, bivariate correlations indicated virtually no associations between children’s entry-level academic skills and midyear ratings of problem behaviors. However, multilevel models controlling for student- and teacher-level variables revealed that midyear ratings of problem behaviors were statistically significant predictors of poor outcomes on several vocabulary-related measures administered at the end of pre-K.