As you put an effective assessment plan in place, one of your greatest challenges may be organizing, managing, and sharing all the data you collect. Sites that are part of large school districts or that feed directly into specific K–5 campuses may already have a streamlined system in place for managing and sharing information about children as they transfer to different programs. For sites that do not have data management systems (such as software programs) in place or do not work closely with other sites or campuses, leaders and staff must work together to decide on an information-sharing system. They should ensure the system is manageable for their particular site and also meets the needs of their staff and children.
As you and your leadership team discuss the best way to collect and share information during children’s transitions, you may want to revisit the Assessment module of this course for resources and guidance on types of assessments, how to analyze the data, and how to organize and use the data to inform care and instruction. For Action Step R1, you need to consider how best to share the data you collect with other educators so that they can continue serving children who transition from your care. You may consider some of the following activities to help maximize your reporting system.
Make data accessible and manageable for all stakeholders.
As leaders, you want to examine your assessment system to ensure that stakeholders (teachers, families, specialists) understand what types of information you collect on children and have access to it as needed. You may communicate different expectations for different stakeholders. For example, teachers at different levels of care (e.g., from infant to toddler to preschool) need to understand and access information on a child’s learning and development so that they can provide continuation of the best care possible that fits the child’s needs. You will need to consider the best format to manage information so that it is shared with teachers in subsequent age groups and when children transition to different sites. Some formats you might consider are summary reports, class reports, and child folders.
You may report and share information differently with families. Some ways you can do this are during parent conferences, at community nights, and in individual reports with children’s assessment information. You may also have more specific information that you share with specialists when a child is identified as at risk for a delay or disability. You and your team will want to establish what your school’s expectations are for staff with regard to reporting and communicating information.
Managing and reporting information can be a challenging task, especially if your site or campus does not already have a data management system in place or established lines of contact between your school and other sites or campuses. The first step may be to ensure that assessment information is stored in one place and to tell staff how they can access and use the information. As leaders, you will need to review data, determine if there is any data missing, and if so, provide support in collecting that data. Finally, putting systems in place, such as enrollment and transfer packets, can support you in collecting and reporting information effectively.
Implement vertical staff meetings to discuss children’s learning and development as they grow and progress.
As you learned in the Assessment component, having regular data meetings to analyze how children are learning and developing is an important part of your effective instructional framework. It is common for teachers of children of the same age or level to share information and review data. One way to maximize how information is shared and reported during child transitions is to implement vertical data meetings at which staff who serve the full range of ages or levels all work together. In these meetings, teachers who serve all ages or levels collaborate to review how children are progressing through the early childhood program as a whole. Transitions also include those that happen for individual children rather than whole groups, such as children who have a birthday, achieve toilet training, or reach other milestones. In those instances, giving and receiving teachers should share relevant information about the child before the transition happens and make sure families are informed of the transition.
During more formal vertical meetings, staff members look at class data and see trends, prepare for transitions, and transfer information that is important as children transition to new caregivers or different programs. Finally, vertical data meetings are important for setting program-wide goals and collaborating on steps your team can take to meet those goals.
Provide support to staff in reading and analyzing data from different assessments for different age groups.
To ensure effective collaboration, staff and specialists need to be able to understand and interpret assessment information from different ages or levels of care. As leaders, you will need to assess staff needs in this area and plan professional support accordingly. You can review the resources in Lesson 3—A3: Assessment to inform instruction, particularly the example staff survey, to gauge staff needs and plan for support to meet those needs.
Build capacity among staff to ensure data is shared during children’s transitions.
As leaders, you want to identify which staff members are effective in the areas of collecting, analyzing, and sharing information on learning and development and support them in becoming staff leaders. These teachers or specialists can take on greater responsibility in the process of facilitating children’s transitions.
Empower families to understand and participate in sharing information.
You and your leadership team may revisit your site’s vision for school and family partnerships and review the information in other modules of this course such as
Throughout the TSLP, one goal of early childhood education is to ensure that families understand the various types of assessment information that are important to their children’s learning and development. You also want to empower families to participate in the process of sharing information as their children transition, particularly to sites that do not already have systems in place for collecting and sharing information. The work you do through other areas of the TSLP to empower parents to understand the important milestones, services, and progress of their children will serve them well if they need to transfer to another site. Parents and families who understand the data collected—due to ongoing communication while their children were at your site—will be in a strong position to communicate that information and advocate for their children as needed.
TO LEARN MORE: Use the resources below to learn more about facilitating the transitions of children in your care.
“Transitions to Kindergarten,” published in Teaching Young Children, offers suggestions for teachers, leaders, and parents in facilitating transitions to kindergarten for preschoolers. It is available on the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) site.
“Successful Transition to Kindergarten for Learners Who May Be at Risk for Learning Disabilities” (available in English and Spanish) describes steps parents and families can take to make a successful transition to kindergarten, particularly for children in need of extra support.
“Paving the Way to Kindergarten for Young Children with Disabilities” describes specific steps early childhood leaders can take to ensure a collaborative process with families during children’s transition to kindergarten. The article provides guidance for teachers and special educators in continuing quality services as families enroll children with disabilities in kindergarten programs.
Elicker and McMullen’s (2013) “Appropriate and Meaningful Assessment in Family-Centered Programs,” found on the NAEYC site, includes information about different assessment tools educators can use for meaningful assessment. The article also describes the importance of reflecting on assessment information in collaboration with colleagues and families and the use of this information for setting goals and planning for individual children and groups.
NEXT STEPS: Depending on your progress in developing a process to facilitate child transitions, you may want to consider the following next steps:
- Conduct or review staff surveys on their knowledge of assessment and analyzing information from assessments. Begin to identify some staff needs in these areas.
- With your leadership team, brainstorm ways to organize transfer packets or enrollment packets, including the types of information that are important to collect as well as the best format to collect this information.
- Consider your current data management system and identify the best ways child information can be made accessible to stakeholders (teachers, families, specialists) during children’s transitions.