The Important Role of the Transition to Kindergarten for Low-Income Children

Drawing on his new report, Connecting the Steps: State Strategies to Ease the Transition from Pre-K to Kindergarten, New America’s Aaron Loewenberg writes in Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity: 

“Transition activities such as teacher home visits; parent orientation sessions; and collaborative meetings and trainings between principals, child care center administrators, and pre-K and kindergarten teachers are key strategies for closing the persistent achievement gap between low-income students and their wealthier peers.

In fact, a 2005 study established a link between the number of transition activities schools facilitated prior to and near the beginning of the kindergarten year and gains in academic achievement by the end of the year. These positive gains were greatest for children whose families were low- or middle-income.

separate study, which focused on pre-K programs, found a positive association between the number of transition activities undertaken by pre-K teachers and kindergarten teachers’ later perceptions of student skills, particularly those of low-income students. Unfortunately, while low-income children stand to benefit the most from a smooth transition to kindergarten, they are also the least likely to attend schools that provide meaningful transition activities.”

https://go.edc.org/c7sd

 

New Case Studies: PreK-3rd Alignment

The U.S. Department of Education recently released a set of case studies of PreK-3rd Alignment and Differentiated Instruction. The case studies are of the Boston Public Schools, the Chicago Child-Parent Centers, Early Works, FirstSchool, and the SEAL program.

The alignment efforts in these programs all emphasize developmentally-appropriate instruction and focus on building students’ vocabulary, oral language skills, and social-emotional skills. All of the programs organize their teachers in professional learning communities and support them with coaches. In addition to the findings across the five programs, the case studies at the end provide helpful detail about each model.

The New America Foundation’s Aaron Lowenberg provides a nice overview here.

Roundtable Discussion: Why Does Investing in Young Children Matter?

EDC recently published a short Round Table discussion on early childhood. Topics include the role of pediatricians in supporting social-emotional development, early childhood education in developing countries, and new research by James Heckman. I close out the Round Table with a discussion of community partnerships.

https://go.edc.org/q4ys

Building State P-3 Systems: Learning from Leading States

The Center for Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) recently released a report I wrote comparing P-3 System-Building in Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. The three case studies address a central question: How can states support P-3 system building at both state and local levels?

See the Executive Summary at the beginning of the report for nine themes and patterns and nine recommendations for state education agencies. There are also examples of local P-3 efforts, both urban and rural, throughout the report.

On Monday we are doing a webinar on the report for people interested in the state role in P-3 efforts. Panelists from all three states are participating.

My thanks to all the interviewees and panelists for their thoughtful insights on the work they are leading. And to my CEELO colleagues for all the helpful feedback throughout the project.

New Social and Emotional Learning Standards in Massachusetts

Eye on Early Education reports on Massachusetts’ new Social and Emotional Learning Standards:

The standards explain: “As Preschool children enter group settings, they engage in a growing circle of deepening relationships with adults and peers outside of the family, and move from self-focused activity to participation in groups. They develop a growing set of skills with guidance and meaningful feedback from caring adults, including skills in developing friendships, following rules and routines, playing in a group, resolving conflicts, sharing, and taking turns, along with essential dispositions for learning.”

and

The benefits for children could be huge. As PBS Newshour’s Judy Woodruff reported during the summer: “In a report released today, researchers tracked more than 700 children from kindergarten to age 25. They found students’ social skills, like cooperation, listening to others and helping classmates, held strong clues for how those children would fare two decades later. In some cases, social skills may even be better predictors of future success than academic ones.”