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Understanding cross-systems transitions from Head Start to kindergarten: A review of the knowledge base and a theory of change


Transitions between two educational settings can bring about new experiences and expectations for children and their families. In the early care and education (ECE) context, when children transition from Head Start to kindergarten, they are confronted with different places, people, activities, and relationships. This transition also occurs between two distinct educational systems, with differing and often contradictory governance structures, philosophies, and accountability metrics. To date, much of what is known about supporting children's transition to kindergarten narrowly attends to practices provided by ECE programs and kindergarten teachers, with little attention to the organizational conditions that support or hinder those practices. To promote ongoing learning and build upon early successes fostered by Head Start, both ECE providers and K-12 local education agencies (LEAs) must consider each other's roles and coordinate their efforts through alignment of transition goals, approaches, and practices. The current report summarizes a review of the literature, highlights key informant perspectives, and presents a theory of change for transition strategies and coordinated transition practices intended to support teachers, families, and children moving between systems. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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