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Transitional Kindergarten: The New Kid on the Early Learning Block

Transitional Kindergarten, Christina Weiland, 4/24
Wednesday, April 24, 2024
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Christina Weiland
Early Childhood Initiative

*Hybrid event* In recent years, several states have expanded a new publicly-funded learning option: transitional kindergarten (TK).TK programs bridge prekindergarten and kindergarten in their eligibility requirements and design. In this talk, Dr. Christina Weiland will share findings from the first systematic research on Michigan's TK program, which is open to all age-eligible children in districts that offer it and compensates teachers with parity with their K-12 colleagues. Findings show that districts that elect to offer TK programs tend to serve proportionally more advantaged children. Within offering districts, demographically diverse families take up the program and districts also tend to locate the program in schools with higher proportions of children from economically disadvantaged families. Using an augmented regression discontinuity design, the research team found that TK improves third-grade test scores by 0.29 (math) and 0.19 (English Language Arts) standard deviations relative to a counterfactual that includes other formal and informal early learning options. These impacts are notably large relative to prior pre-K literature. Weiland will discuss the implications of her team's findings for early childhood investments and models in Michigan and nationally.

Christina Weiland is an associate professor at the Marsal Family School of Education at the University of Michigan and (by courtesy) the Ford School of Public Policy, where she is affiliated with the Educational Studies Department and the Combined Program in Psychology and Education program. She serves as co-director of the Education Policy Initiative at the Ford School of Public Policy and as director of the University of Michigan's Predoctoral Training Program in Causal Inference in Education Policy Research. She is also a senior research fellow at the Learning Policy Institute and a non-resident fellow at the Urban Institute.

Weiland's research focuses on the effects of early childhood interventions and public policies on children's development, especially on children from families with low incomes. She is particularly interested in the active ingredients that drive children's gains in successful, at-scale public preschool programs. She holds an EdD (quantitative policy analysis in education), an MA from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a BA from Dartmouth College.

Contact: Erika Layko