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Report Looks at Transition Issues for Youngest Students

Many studies over the years have documented the need for smoother transitions from prekindergarten to the elementary level. A new AFT report reinforces that conclusion—and does it in a manner that puts frontline voices at the heart of the dialogue.

"Right from the Start: Transition strategies for developing a strong preK-3 continuum," which was funded through the Pew Charitable Trusts, highlights many field-tested measures to building an effective, collaborative environment between the preK and elementary communities. The strategies are based on a presentation made at AFT's 2011 TEACH conference by early childhood expert Kristi Kauerz from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the University of Washington. A more detailed framework to be published by Kauerz later this year will include tools for schools and districts to assess their efforts.

Such environments are indispensable to the long-term success of students—particularly the most vulnerable young learners, AFT president Randi Weingarten stresses. "Collaborative, thoughtful and intentional transitions to assist children leaving pre-K and entering kindergarten have been found to be especially beneficial to children from lower socioeconomic circumstances," Weingarten writes in the introduction to the report, citing measures already adopted in several communities.

These efforts, which are highlighted in profiles and case studies throughout the report, include placing preschool classes under the roofs of elementary schools and linking community-based child care center programs to elementary schools to ease the transition for parents and children.

The AFT website includes a page dedicated to the new report. In addition to the report, it includes a link to a feature story about it in the most recent issue of American Teacher as well as a form for members to submit their own strategies for dealing with the transition from preK to elementary schools. [Tish Olshefski, Dan Gursky]

January 9, 2012