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Policy Brief: It’s Time to Smooth the Transition from Pre-K to Elementary School

Indiana can and must do a better job of aligning its preschool and elementary school programs to fully reap the benefits of early education, a new policy brief released this morning from Early Learning Indiana argues.

“Mile Markers: Smoothing the transition from pre-K to Elementary School,” urges greater continuity between early learning and K-3. Recommendations focus on aligning standards, assessments, curricula and professional development standards, collecting longitudinal data across the two systems to better track growth, and coordinating kindergarten transition efforts between early education programs and schools.

“Right now we have two very different systems that often don’t support one another – and we are losing opportunities because of it,” said Dr. Karen Ruprecht, Early Learning Indiana’s Director of Research and Practice. “By making some policy changes to line up Indiana’s early education system with our elementary system, we can achieve savings and ensure better outcomes for our kids.”

In 2016, Indiana spent $24 million in kindergarten remediation, the most spent on any grade level.

This is the third in a series of in-depth policy briefings examining different challenges and opportunities surrounding Indiana’s On My Way Pre-K program. The series supplements Early Learning Indiana’s “On the Road to Pre-K Expansion” roadmap, which was released in June.

Key points include:

  • As Indiana continues to expand state-funded pre-K, greater continuity and coordination between preschool and elementary school systems is necessary.
  • In 2016 Indiana spent $24 million on kindergarten retention, with schools holding back five percent of students.
  • Children learn best when the instruction builds on individual learning trajectories that educators are build throughout their academic careers.
  • Increased emphasis on developmentally appropriate academic skills at the pre-K level while intentionally attending to social-emotional development beyond pre-K can improve child outcomes.

Funded through a grant from the Joyce Foundation, you can view the full issue brief and additional reports here.

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