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students and staff attend a workshopThe transition from preschool to kindergarten is beginning to look a little less daunting thanks to the first-ever Bridging Head Start to Kindergarten Transitions Symposium. 

Organized by LACOE, the June 1 event brought together 500 parents, teachers and administrators from Head Start programs and elementary school districts across Los Angeles County to the downtown Sheraton Grand hotel.

The symposium offered the opportunity to begin developing a countywide system to support children and families as they transition from Head Start to K-12.

This project is a key step in overcoming the achievement gap experienced by low-income children, including the 28,000 who are served each year in Los Angeles County Head Start programs and go on to attend schools in 75 different districts.

The move from preschool to kindergarten is a time of changing demands, expectations and supports. A smooth transition, with active collaboration between family, teachers and schools, is vital to support children’s academic success and social adjustment.

LACOE Superintendent Debra Duardo welcomed a diverse group of stakeholders by stressing the importance of the project.

“Together, we have a chance to make a difference that will change the trajectory of a child’s life, because a child’s outcomes shouldn’t be determined by their zip code,” she said.

Speakers from the Office of Head Start, California Department of Education and Los Angeles Unified School District shared inspiration and expectations, including transition requirements mandated by the Every Student Succeeds Act and Head Start Act.

Sarah Neville-Morgan, deputy superintendent of the California Department of Education, noted it was appropriate to be meeting on Hope Street, as the event was an opportunity to “ensure all children have an equitable opportunity to thrive.”

Keesha Woods, LACOE Head Start and Early Learning executive director, added, “Developing a strong transition system will require collaboration by all of L.A. County’s multitude of early education providers and elementary districts. I believe today was a positive first step.”

Following the success of the symposium kickoff, LACOE will convene a countywide workgroup of parents, early learning teachers, kindergarten teachers, principals, superintendents and Parent-Teacher Association representatives. They will be charged with considering national best practices to adopt countywide strategies that strengthen efforts with families and ensure that children transition smoothly from early learning to primary education.

Listen to coverage of the symposium by KPCC public radio reporter Priska Neely here.

Photo: LACOE Supt. Debra Duardo reads to a group of preschoolers while their parents attend the first-ever Bridging Head Start to Kindergarten Transitions Symposium held June 1.

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