Student Success

Free Toolkit Promises Better Shift for Students from Head Start into Kindergarten

Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, school districts that take federal funding are supposed to develop written agreements with Head Start and other early childhood providers to improve coordination. The idea is that kids should enter kindergarten knowing the social norms in school and being prepared for a new setting, new teachers and new instructional methods. A PDF "toolkit" from the National Head Start Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers can help schools and program providers fulfill the new requirement.

Besides explaining the new requirements, the 100-page toolkit offers resources to advise state and local education stakeholders in creating their coordination agreements. That includes:

  • Information on specific actions and activities state education people can take to facilitate coordination at the local level;
  • Guidance for local educational agencies and early childhood partners, such as Head Start programs, for developing effective coordination agreements;
  • Tips on how to draft a memorandum of understanding as well as sample MOUs;
  • Best practices on how teachers and staff can help children and their families make the transition into kindergarten;
  • Examples of successful early childhood-district partnerships; and
  • Resources for overcoming challenges that surface in coordination efforts.

The idea that coordination should take place between both entities is a new one. Previously, while the Head Start Act required Head Start programs to pursue such agreements, districts and schools were under no such conditions. In 2016, almost 18 percent of Head Start programs lacked formal agreements with their local LEAs.

According to the toolkit, "strong coordination" shows multiple benefits, "most notably, reduced child stress, higher ratings of social-emotional competence at the beginning of the school year, improved academic growth, and increased family involvement, particularly for children and families living in poverty."

The toolkit is openly available as a download on the National Head Start website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.