Colorado highlighted in national report on easing transition from preschool to kindergarten

Such initiatives matter because the move from preschool to kindergarten is a pivotal time for kids and researchers have found that a rocky transition can cut into learning and hamper consistent attendance.

A student works at Tollgate Elementary School in Aurora. (Nic Garcia/Chalkbeat)
A student works at Tollgate Elementary School in Aurora. (Nic Garcia/Chalkbeat)
A student works at Tollgate Elementary School in Aurora. (Nic Garcia/Chalkbeat)

By Ann SchimkeChalkbeat 

When kids arrive in kindergarten, teachers often lack essential information about how they’re doing. Can they take turns? Do they know their letters? Are they given to meltdowns?

A new report highlights Colorado’s efforts to more carefully track preschoolers’ progress and make sure kindergarten teachers have that information when their new crop of students arrive.

Such initiatives matter because the move from preschool to kindergarten is a pivotal time for kids and researchers have found that a rocky transition can cut into learning and hamper consistent attendance.

Colorado is one of four states featured in the report highlighting efforts to improve kids’ transition from preschool to kindergarten. The report, put out by the think tank New America, also cites efforts in Washington, Oregon and West Virginia.

Colorado was spotlighted in the report for using the “Results Matter” system, which annually assesses about 47,000 preschoolers — most of whom are in publicly funded preschool programs — to see how they’re doing on a range of academic, developmental and behavioral skills. For parents and teachers, the feedback can be valuable, especially if a child is struggling.

Results Matter, in place since 2006, primarily uses the Teaching Strategies GOLD assessment, the same one used in many kindergarten classrooms across the state to meet the requirements of a major 2008 school reform law called CAP4K.

Unlike assessments for older kids, which are often paper-and-pencil or computer-based tests, Teaching Strategies GOLD relies on teachers to observe students and document their skills.

While the New America report called Results Matter “a helpful tool in creating partnerships between pre-K and kindergarten teachers,” it also noted a shortfall. That is, currently there’s no way to electronically transfer the assessments done during the preschool years to kindergarten teachers.

State officials are working on a solution, but currently the main option is for preschool teachers to print out each student’s assessment report and share it with kindergarten teachers or provide it to parents to deliver.

In addition to Results Matter, the report highlights a local foundation’s efforts to finance preschool-to-kindergarten transition work in the Aurora, Dolores and Eagle County school districts.

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.