The Madison Education Partnership: Collaborating around the Transition to Kindergarten



Spencer Foundation | U.S. Department of Education, Institute for Education Sciences | Wisconsin Center for Education Research

Principal Investigator

Eric Grodsky | University of Wisconsin–Madison | Department of Sociology

Co-Principal Investigators

Elizabeth Vaade | Madison Metropolitan School District | Research & Program Evaluation Office
Caroline Racine Gilles | Madison Metropolitan School District | Integrated Supports and Accelerated Learning


The transition into five-year-old kindergarten (5K) can be challenging for children, even those who have experience in four-year-old kindergarten (4K) or other high quality early learning programs. At the same time, the academic, social and behavioral paths children follow at this early stage of formal schooling can have implications for their educational success in primary school and beyond.

The Madison Education Partnership seeks to support teachers, children and families in the transition to kindergarten through two related research projects. In the first, we are examining school practices to plan for the 4K-5K transition. Through document review and interviews, we will better understand how school staff design structures to facilitate smooth transitions, and identify areas where schools can build on current success and address gaps. In the second study, we are implementing teacher home visits in the summer before children enter elementary school. Working with a team of experienced 4K and 5K teachers, we will co-design two home visits intended to help teachers learn about the strengths children and families bring to 5K. We hope that these visits will help teachers appreciate the experiences, interests and strengths children bring to kindergarten and help families feel more comfortable collaborating with teachers to help children enjoy a happy, engaged and successful first year of school.