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Summary of Questions from Webinar 6:
Ensuring School Readiness Through Successful Transitions

Responses from Speakers and National PIRC Coordination Center

Questions and Answers
Responses written by Sharon Ritchie, Senior Scientist, FPG Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

1. What specific competencies should teacher and principal preparation programs incorporate into their curriculum to ensure that candidates are committed to and skilled in promoting successful transitions for young children?

Please see our brief on this topic on the First School Web site [www.firstschool.us]

21st Century Teacher Education for First School: A Model of Collaborative Inquiry (New, Ritchie, & Boone, 2009)
Resource available at http://www.firstschool.us/firstschool-briefs-21st-century-teacher-education-firstschool-model-collaborative-inquiry

2. Where are MI Districts participating in the program?

  • Lansing School District: Gier Park Elementary and El Shabaaz Academy
  • Pontiac School District: Jefferson Whittier Elementary
  • Kalkaska County: Birch Street Elementary

3. Please provide more information on the formation and work of family engagement teams?

We use the following actions to foster the formation of family engagement teams:

  1. Develop a Family-School Team—this team should be diverse in terms of school leadership, grade level teachers, school personnel, parents, and community members; this team should also be thought of similarly as grade level teams.
  2. Collect data through different methods and sources (e.g., focus groups, surveys, etc.).
    1. E.g., conduct a focus group—schools should identify with the help of First School (FS) the subpopulation(s), recruitment strategy, location, logistics, purpose, number of meetings, facilitator(s), transcriber or note-taker, analyst, etc.
    2. E.g., conduct a survey from families and teachers about home-school partnership
    3. E.g., collect other data of interest to address the questions, such as school attendance
  3. Analyze all data.
  4. Present data in meaningful way:
    1. E.g., snapshot of information at the whole-school level, grade level, subpopulation level
    2. E.g., determine from the Family-School Team the questions and data that can help provide information
  5. Summarize findings from all relevant data sources—the purpose is to triangulate all information and note the "key findings" of the data.
  6. Family-School Team will identify their focus/foci.
  7. Develop a Family-School Partnership Action Plan. The plan will have the strategies identified by the Family-School Team and the individuals who will implement the strategies, including how, how much, and when. Finally, the plan will have a monitoring and evaluation component to ensure that the strategy is being implemented as intended and progress and outcomes will be assessed.
  8. Repeat the steps the following year ensuring that the focus/foci and strategies from Year 1 are built into the data collection.

Questions and Answers
Responses written by Whitcomb Hayslip, Early Childhood Education Consultant and Former Assistant Superintendent, Los Angeles Unified School District

1. What makes the CA standards among the most rigorous in the nation?

California is in the process of adopting /adapting the Common Core Standards which will result in new standards for kindergarten. There are many steps in this process including revision of curriculum and assessment materials meaning that full implementation will occur over a number of years. The current California Kindergarten Standards in Language Arts and Math were adopted in 1997 and reflect a skill level that previously would have been expected in the first grade.

A copy of those standards available on the California Department of Education web site at http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/

2. What is the age level for the transitional kindergarten program?

The new California legislation mandates that the program be provided for children who turn five between September 1st and December 2nd of their enrollment year. There are more than 120,000 children each year in California who fall within that age range. The legislation, however, also allows for the enrollment of older children who turn five prior to September 1st if the family and the school district agree that transitional kindergarten is the appropriate program.

3. What assessment tools are used in the program?

At this point there are no mandated statewide assessment tools in California for the transitional kindergarten program. The Los Angeles Unified School District is using a variety of assessment tools including

4. In what ways could collaborations between transitional kindergartens and other preK programs (i.e., Head Start or other state or local preschool programs) create a stronger base of support for very young children?

There is growing acknowledgement of the importance of coordinating educational programs for children across the preschool through third grade level (P-3). This is much more than a single “hand-off” at transition from preschool to kindergarten. It includes aligning strategies and resources within and across grade levels and joint planning and professional development for staff. California State Early Childhood Advisory Councils across the country are developing models for this P-3 collaboration. The following resources can also help to support this approach:

Frequently Asked Questions and Family and Community Engagement Suggestions and Resources
Responses created by National PIRC Coordination Center

1. What strategies help to bring a program to scale?

The following resources provide information on scaling up program efforts:

Research on Scaling Up

Strategies for Scaling Up

  • Growing and Sustaining Parent Engagement: A Toolkit for Parents and Community Partners (2010) was developed as a ready-to-use resource to support engagement. The toolkit contains explanations of key concepts, provides useful implementation tools, and includes tools for determining progress and sustainability.
    Toolkit available in PDF format at http://www.cssp.org/publications/growingandsustainingparentengagementtoolkit.pdf
  • In Harvard Family Research Project’s Spring 2010 issue of the Evaluation Exchange, McDonald describes a conceptual model that demonstrates the role of evaluation in scaling up interventions.
    Article available at http://www.hfrp.org/evaluation/the-evaluation-exchange/current-issue-scaling-impact/developmental-stages-for-evaluating-scale
  • Families and Schools Together: Building Organizational Capacity for Family-School Partnerships (2000) provides detailed information on this programs efforts to support the development and replication of Families and Schools Together (FAST).
    Resource available at http://www.hfrp.org/var/hfrp/storage/fckeditor/File/families_and_schools_together.pdf

2. What strategies would you recommend to support parent liaisons?

The following resources provide information on effective strategies for using parent liaisons:

Diverse Settings

  • In Cultural Brokering as a Core Practice of a Special Education Parent Liaison Program in a Large Urban School District, Smiley, Howland, and Anderson (2006) provide (1) insight and detailed information about a program to help parents of diverse backgrounds navigate the school system; (2) suggestions parent facilitators can use to help parents provide greater support to their children’s education; and (3) information about activities that increase parental engagement. Report available in PDF at http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/contentdelivery/servlet/ERICServlet?accno=EJ837807
  • Sanders (2008) describes the findings from her case study on how parent liaisons support school-family-community partnerships in a diverse suburban setting in How Parent Liaisons Can Help Bridge the Home-School Gap. Report available in PDF at
  • In Building Partnerships with Immigrant Parents, Sobel and Kugler (2006) present issues and lessons from practice to consider when beginning a parent liaison program. Resource available in PDF at http://www.embracediverseschools.com/images/Ed_Leadership.pdf

Building Parent Liaison Capacity

  • The Arizona State PIRC has two resources that can help program planners to frame training for parent liaisons.
    • Parent Liaisons Introductory Series is a set of presentation slides that introduces the qualities necessary to become an effective parent liaison.
      Presentation slides available at http://www.azpirc.com/Downloads/PLiason/Parent%20Liaison%20Intro%20Series.Final.ppt
    • Parent Liaisons: A Bridge Between School and Families provides a list of actions that liaisons can take to increase family engagement.
      Handout available at http://www.azpirc.com/Downloads/PLiason/P.L.IntroSeries.A%20Bridge.pdf
  • The Alaska State PIRC has created an intensive home-school liaison program in partnership with the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development—the Language and Cultural Liaison Project. Their Web site has a variety of tools that can be used to replicate this effort.
    Resources available at http://www.akpirc.org/node/7466

3. What does “decoding” mean when a child learns to read?

When children successfully decode words—pronounce words correctly, they demonstrate their understanding of letter-sound relationships. The U.S. Department of Education publication, Put Reading First: Kindergarten Through Grade 3 (Armbruster, Lehr,& Osborn, 2008), provides detailed information and examples of the necessary knowledge and skills that children need to learn to read.

Resource available in PDF format at http://lincs.ed.gov/publications/pdf/PRFbooklet.pdf

4. What are the basic components of an early literacy program?

The U.S. Department of Education has a collection of information publications and helpful tools for parents and for those who work with parents to encourage early literacy development including the following:

5. How can family and community engagement provide greater support to early childhood programs?

The following SEDL resources provide information on effective family engagement in early childhood programs:

  • Readiness: School, Family, and Community Connections (2004) reports on the findings from 48 research studies related to child readiness for school.
    Synthesis available at http://www.sedl.org/connections/research-syntheses.html
  • Easing the Transition from PreK to Kindergarten: What Can Schools Do to Address Child Readiness (2005) provides a basic review of the research and suggested strategies for supporting a child’s readiness for school.
    Research brief available at http://www.sedl.org/connections/research-briefs.html
  • How Can Schools Involve Family and Community Members in Supporting a Child's Readiness for School (2006) is an online, interactive module providing information on key issues and strategies to promote readiness.
    Online interactive brief available at http://www.sedl.org/connections/interactive-briefs.html

The following Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP) resources provide information on preparing young children for school:

6. What tools can we use to improve our program evaluations?

The following resources provide information and suggestions for developing effective evaluations:

7. What are some examples of schools getting ready for students instead of students getting ready for school?

A ready school fosters a welcoming culture for students and their families and is committed to ensuring that every child has a quality education. The following resources provide information on efforts to create ready schools:

  • The North Carolina Ready School Initiative Web site provides detailed information on (1) a definition and pathways to a ready school; (2) assessment and planning for ready schools; and (3) ready school models. The site also contains archives of presentation materials that provide additional information on this program.
    Web site available at http://www.ncreadyschools.org//index.html
  • Linking Ready Kids to Ready Schools: A Report on Policy Insights From the Governors’ Forum Series (2009) presents information and lessons on efforts in Arizona, Connecticut, Mississippi, Ohio, and Pennsylvania to transition young children into school.
    Report is available in PDF format at http://www.eric.ed.gov/contentdelivery/servlet/ERICServlet?accno=ED507714
  • The October 2001 Child Trends Research Brief is devoted to issues related to school readiness. The brief defines school readiness and ready schools and provides a framework for community engagement to ensure that every child has a quality education.
    Brief available in PDF format at http://www.childtrends.org/files/schoolreadiness.pdf
  • Continuity in Early Childhood: A Framework for Home, School, and Community Linkages (2002) presents information on a wide range of early childhood issues, including ready schools.
    Guide available in PDF format at http://www.terrifictransitions.org/TT/Continuity%20in%20Early.pdf
  • Nine Pathways to Ready Schools (Kellogg Foundation, 2007) provides a list of characteristics for effective programs.
    List available in PDF format at http://ww2.wkkf.org/DesktopModules/WKF.00_DmaSupport/ViewDoc.aspx?LanguageID=0&CID=168&ListID=28&ItemID=5000310&fld=PDFFile
Questions on this page
Responses by
Sharon Ritchie, Senior Scientist, FPG Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Responses by
Whitcomb Hayslip, Early Childhood Education Consultant and Former Assistant Superintendent, Los Angeles Unified School District

  Click to view a list of the 4 questions.

Responses by
National PIRC Coordination Center

  Click to view a list of the 7 questions.
This webinar series is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education's Parental Information and Resource Center program. The content of this webinar series does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Education.