A recent study, published in the Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk, found that students who participated in an Early Kindergarten Transition (EKT) program showed higher attendance rates and higher early literacy skills when compared to their non-participating peers. What’s more, these trends continued over time, in kindergarten and later grades. The research was featured in Education Week, the Oregonian, U.S. News & World Report, and Getting Smart.
EKT, offered in 14 Title I elementary schools in Portland Public Schools, is designed to help families with students who may struggle with the transition to kindergarten. These are primarily children who have not had a structured preschool experience, have a primary language other than English, or have had attendance or behavior issues while enrolled in Head Start. The targeted intervention is a free, three-week summer program that aims to increase parental involvement, reduce chronic absenteeism, and enhance the development of early literacy skills—all early indicators of long-term academic success. During the program, incoming kindergarteners work with teachers to practice school routines and gain literacy skills, and parents connect with school staff and learn how to support their children’s learning at home.
“The EKT program helps school staff develop strong, authentic partnerships with families and students before school starts,” said Nancy Hauth, Program Manager of Kindergarten and Early Learning at Portland Public Schools. “This early ‘home to school’ connection is powerful and helps all of our students succeed. We’re thrilled that the results of our EKT program validate that we are on the right path with our youngest students.”
The research was conducted by the Multnomah County Partnership for Education Research (MCPER). MCPER was developed by the University of Portland School of Education and NWEA to assist the county’s six largest public school districts, including Portland Public Schools, in evaluating the effectiveness of education programs and making informed, data-driven decisions to increase student learning and equity.
“Our district leadership needs to know what’s working in our schools, and we need actionable data to make decisions,” said Dr. Elise Christiansen, System Planning and Performance Manager, Evaluation and Research Unit, System Planning and Performance Department at Portland Public Schools. “With MCPER, we determine the initiatives we want to examine, identify the data we need, and apply what we learn from the findings to continually improve how we support student learning. This research enables us to remain accountable to the students, families, and communities that we serve.”
For more information about MCPER and how the partnership works to support school districts, please visit the website.