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Q&A with Dr. Beth Tarasawa about New Kindergarten Transition Study


September 18, 2017
Aaron Lowenberg
New America

In July, I published a report that emphasizes the importance of the transition between pre-K and kindergarten and explores state strategies to ease the transition between the two grades. One of the report’s key takeaways is that school, districts, and states must all be engaged in making the transition to kindergarten less bumpy for children and families.

Some school districts are trying to meet the transition needs of children and their families who lack access to pre-K by offering free summer programs. A new study on the Early Kindergarten Transition Program in Multnomah County, Oregon sheds light on potential long-term benefits of these programs. (Multnomah County is home to Portland.)

To learn more about the study and its implications, I interviewed Dr. Beth Tarasawa, the study’s lead researcher and the Manager for Education Research Partnerships at NWEA.

The study looks at Multnomah County’s Early Kindergarten Transition (EKT) program. What are the key components and goals of that program?

The EKT program is a free, targeted three-week summer program for incoming kindergarten students and their parents or guardians at Title I schools. The program brings early childhood and school partners together to promote successful kindergarten transition, with the goals of increasing parental involvement, reducing chronic absenteeism, and enhancing the development of early literacy skills – all indicators of long-term academic success. Portland Public Schools (PPS) first piloted the EKT program in two elementary schools in 2010. Schools and districts replicated the model, and there are now 41 schools countywide who offer EKT.