Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department or Program


Department or Program Chair

Elizabeth Truesdell PhD

First Reader

Jennifer Lucko, PhD

Second Reader

Suresh Appavoo EdD


Educators across the world are being asked to teach academic skills to increasingly younger students. The purpose of this research project was to examine the impact that using rigorous curriculum had on transitional kindergarten and kindergarten educators as well as how rigorous curriculum affected the self-esteem of students. A particular shortcoming in the available literature is the lack of research discussing rigorous curriculum used in early elementary classrooms that contain mostly English language learners and how that affects the teachers and students. This project used a mixed methods approach in order to collect qualitative data from detailed interviews using open-ended questions and close-ended quantitative data from survey questions. The findings from the research show that rigorous curriculum is failing to serve the majority of students, but especially English language learners in transitional kindergarten and kindergarten. While much of the literature examined the importance of play-based learning, participants mentioned that their students were struggling with the rigorous curriculum mostly due to the lack of social emotional learning opportunities in the curriculum. The findings also show that the impact of rigorous curriculum depends on how the curriculum is selected and implemented. When teachers are not involved in the process of choosing curriculum, teachers may have negative feelings about their profession as well as a loss of efficacy.