WORK PRODUCT:

ORGANIZATIONS REPRESENTED: Bringing Out the Best program, community volunteers; Greensboro Children’s Museum; Guilford Child Development (Head Start); Guilford County Schools (GCS); Guilford County Partnership for Children

COMMUNITY PROBLEM: There is no system-wide process for transitioning children into kindergarten making transition more difficult for some children, parents and teachers.

CHALLENGE GOAL: Engage elementary school principals, GCS administrators, and Pre-K programs to improve policies and processes for Pre-K to kindergarten transition.

READY/READY FRAMEWORK ELEMENT ADDRESSED:  RESPONSIVE & INNOVATIVE EARLY CHILDHOOD SYSTEM > Aligned & Accountable Policies & Programs > Equitable, aligned policies and practices

PERSPECTIVES ENGAGED: GCS Exceptional Children’s (EC) Services, GCS administrators and principals, Guilford Child Development, NC Pre-K

ACTIONS TAKEN & ASSOCIATED BEST PRACTICES

  1. Defined the local problem. Reviewed notes from focus groups held with kindergarten teachers, Pre-K teachers and school administrators at two schools; aligned with Effective Transitions to Enhance School Readiness15 which describes four connections for successful kindergarten transition; identified elementary school principals as key decision-makers about transition practices; developed survey to gain insights from GCS elementary principals about current practices.
  2. Identify root causes. Lack of standard policies and practices related to kindergarten transition.
  3. Identify powerful strategies to target root causes. Convened key decision makers in Pre-K and GCS administration to get feedback on proposed strategies; agreed to pilot two actions.

WHAT WE LEARNED

  1. Accountability for a successful transition into kindergarten isn’t clear.
  2. Standard policies and practices for the transition from Pre-K to kindergarten across the system are lacking, putting a burden on individual schools (both early childhood programs and GCS) to create experiences to promote easier transition.
  3. Opportunities exist to create a more family-friendly process and warm hand-off for children enrolled in Head Start, Pre-K and Exceptional Children Programs from the Pre-K environment to GCS.

SIGNIFICANT WINS

  1. Agreement from GCS to hold focus groups with eight principals in June 2016 to gather data on current kindergarten transition policies, practices and procedures.
  2. Nationally recognized early childhood expert to facilitate short training with principals in July 2016 about brain development in young children and the importance of the first 2,000 days, including transition to kindergarten; the first of a proposed series of trainings with GCS principals.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. Evaluate current state of Pre-K to K transition against the four connections framework. Identify “small wins“ to improve transition process for 2017-18 school year, including improved transitions for Exceptional Children and shared professional development for Pre-K and kindergarten teachers.
  2. Develop shared accountability for kindergarten transition between early childhood programs and GCS for kindergarten transition through shared measures of success.
  3. Align kindergarten registration materials (checklist, registration packet, etc.); and standardize across the system; test with families and incorporate family feedback.