Foundations for Excellence

Example 1

puzzle piece iconProgram Goal: Strengthening Transitions to Kindergarten


Community Assessment Report
Always Cutting Edge (ACE) Head Start program serves children and families in four different counties. A recent update of its community assessment revealed some interesting information. Two new elementary schools had opened in its service area, each in a different county and supported by its own local education agency (LEA). This meant that the program would have to work with two different schools and LEAs to support children's educational and special needs. Parents' dissatisfaction with program communication was already an area of challenge that ACE was trying to overcome.

During Annual Self-Assessment
Aggregated data from the family satisfaction survey, completed prior to the program's annual self-assessment, pointed to a concern among families about children's transition to kindergarten. These parents and family members, especially those whose primary language was not English, and those whose children had special health needs, were unsure how to approach and communicate with school staff. They expressed a second concern about how their children would do in kindergarten. 

During Planning
Based on this data, ACE's planning committee, consisting of management team members and representatives from the governing body and Policy Council, decided to develop a new program goal. They aimed to strengthen the program's process for transitioning to kindergarten, with increased focus on children who are DLLs and children with special health needs. In developing its action plan, the planning committee sought input from the LEA representatives, receiving school principals, and the governing body member with early childhood expertise.

Program Goal
ACE Head Start will use coordinated transition strategies involving parents, Head Start staff, and public school personnel so the preschool and elementary programs can help children maintain and maximize the gains they made in preschool and succeed in kindergarten and beyond.

The planning team developed four SMART objectives and identified several expected outcomes for the goal. They also identified the data sources they would use to track progress. A challenge was also noted.

Expected Challenge
Based on parental concerns noted during the self-assessment process, the program noted a need to assist the LEA leadership staff in building stronger relationships with families to support their children's continued development.

Table 4.1: Example 1 – ACE Head Start Objectives, Expected Outcomes, and Data, Tools, and Methods (Strengthening Transitions to Kindergarten)

Objectives Expected Outcomes Data, Tools, or Methods for Tracking Progress
  1. ACE Head Start program will develop a process for data-sharing between ACE and its LEAs. By the end of year one, identify and obtain signed memorandums of understanding (MOUs) from two LEAs for the purpose of piloting a data-sharing process. With these two LEAs, share data about family home language and child progress on language and literacy development in both the family’s home language and English.

    By year five, ACE will share child and family language usage data with all eight LEAs, as detailed in formal signed MOUs with each LEA.
  • Child outcomes data, including home and English language skills and abilities data from the program’s child assessment system, will be electronically transmitted with parental permission to each receiving school
  • Through the school system, the Head Start program will have access to aggregated longitudinal data about Head Start children’s continued progress through third grade, including kindergarten entry assessment data
  • Through joint review of data, the school system will have a better understanding of the needs of Head Start children and families as they transition to the schools
  • Instrument to monitor data-sharing between ACE and schools (as outlined in MOUs)
  • Longitudinal data received from schools
  • Reports from school system representatives on their understanding of Head Start child and family needs
  1. ACE Head Start program will complete and sign transition plans with all receiving schools. ACE will have signed transition plans with:
  • 25 percent of its receiving schools by the end of year one
  • 40 percent by the end of year two
  • 60 percent by the end of year three
  • 80 percent by the end of year four
  • 100 percent by the end of year five
  • All children will visit receiving classrooms prior to entering
  • Families have increased confidence and engagement with the receiving schools
  • Signed transition plans
  • Site visit logs
  • Parent focus group and survey summaries
  • Reports from kindergarten teachers about the success of the visits
  1. ACE Head Start program will strengthen parents’ understanding of the importance of their role in supporting their children’s transition to school. Head Start will ensure that families know about the language instruction offered by the receiving school. As measured by parents’ participation in transition events, ACE will increase each of the following by 20 percent per year:
  • Number of parents who attend kindergarten registration
  • Number of parents who attend Head Start parent meeting with Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) representatives
  • Number of parents who accompany their children on site visits to the school their child will attend (data based on sign-in list and information shared by parents with program staff)
  • Number of parents who utilize library resources over the summer months to sustain children’s development and learning from the prior school year
  • Parents/family members will be more engaged during kindergarten registration and on-site visits to the school their child will attend
  • Parents/family members, and in particular families whose primary language is not English, will increasingly cite being satisfied with their child’s transition to kindergarten
  • Children will show less “summer fadeout” when they enter kindergarten, and they will exhibit fewer challenging behaviors during the first two months of school
  • Children with special health care needs will be able to attend school, as schools will be better prepared and able to receive them
  • Parents of children with special health care needs will know who to communicate with and will be able to communicate more frequently with their child’s school personnel
  • Kindergarten registration and data from site-visit logs
  • Reports from kindergarten teachers
  • Parent satisfaction surveys
  • Results of parent focus group on transition pilot
  • Results from parent self-report
  • Analysis of attendance data from receiving schools, including disaggregated data for children with special health care needs
  • Analysis of parent satisfaction survey, including disaggregated data from parents of children with special health care needs
  1. ACE Head Start program will ensure that Head Start children with special health care needs successfully transition to the receiving school(s) as measured by an increase in the percentage of parents making at least one contact with school personnel to discuss their child’s individual health needs.
  • In year one, parent contact with the receiving school will increase from 35 percent to 55 percent
  • Parent contact with the receiving school will increase by an additional 10 percent each subsequent year following year one
  • Increase kindergarten registration from the prior year
  • Kindergarten registration reports

Remember that this is an example. If your program has a goal related to transition to school, you might write it differently. You are also likely to have different objectives and expected outcomes that are based on your own program's unique strengths and needs.

ACE Head Start program then created action plans for each of the objectives. Table 4.2 provides ACE’s action plan for Objective 3: ACE will strengthen parents’ understanding of the importance of their role in supporting their children’s transition to school as measured by their participation in transition events.

Table 4.2: Example 1 – ACE Head Start Action Plan (Strengthening Transitions to Kindergarten)

Action/Strategy Person(s) Responsible Timeline Financial Supports
  1. Work with receiving schools to ensure that kindergartens hold registration events at places and times convenient for Head Start parents; ensure that schools translate materials and engage interpreters as needed.
Head Start director Late fall Budget for interpreters
  1. Co-create a “Kick Off to Kindergarten” brochure and social media campaign for and with parents; provide the brochure in the home languages of all children in the program.
Education manager and parents whose children have transitioned, including some who do not speak English and/or are recent immigrants Late fall Work with LEAs to jointly fund the cost of the brochure design, social media campaign, translation, and printing
  1. Distribute brochures and social media information to all families whose children are entering kindergarten.
Teachers, family child care providers, and home visitors Early winter Budget for supplies and mailing of brochures to families unable to attend events in person
  1. During home visits and at parent committee meetings, reinforce with families the importance of their role in helping their child(ren) make a smooth transition to kindergarten. Ensure that staff have conversations in families’ home languages about opportunities for family engagement in the new school.
Family engagement staff and home visitors Winter Budget for interpreters as needed
  1. Provide parents with a packet of materials that includes information in their home language about all health screening and other health-related kindergarten requirements. Also, help parents compile their child’s kindergarten health records.
Health services staff, family engagement staff, and home visitors Prior to kindergarten registration events Work with LEAs to jointly fund the cost of parent informational materials on health-related kindergarten requirements. Budget for program’s portion of translation, printing, and purchase of folders
  1. Work with parents to initiate a summer “bookbag” project with local libraries. Participate in kindergarten registration events and distribute the book backpacks during these events.
Education manager, family engagement staff, and community partnerships manager Spring Work with local libraries to obtain community funding for summer book backpacks
  1. Discuss transportation issues and any potential challenges that may occur
Family engagement staff and home visitors Late spring Budget for transportation assistance (e.g., bus tokens)
  1. Invite parent association representatives from receiving elementary schools to come to a parent meeting; make sure interpreters are available.
Director and community partnerships manager Early spring Budget for interpreters and snacks for meeting
  1. Set up visits for transitioning parents and children to visit the child’s elementary school; make sure interpreters are available.
Education managers with teachers and home visitors Late spring Budget for interpreters
  1. Conduct focus groups with a diverse group of families to discuss the transition process and obtain their feedback.
Family engagement staff Late spring Budget for meetings and child care as needed
  1. Review what worked well in the transition-to-kindergarten process and identify any areas for improvement.
Management team with input from all staff Very late spring Budget for data management
  1. Revise the transition-to-kindergarten procedures and processes as needed.
Management team Review during ongoing monitoring Budget for adjustments as needed