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Citation:Entwisle, D. R., & Alexander, K. L. (1998). Facilitating the transition to first grade: The nature of transition and research of factors affecting it. Elementary School Journal, 98(4), 381-397. EJ561643.

The purpose of this study is to describe first-grade transition and summarize studies that have investigated effects of transition on childrenÕs schooling by focusing on behavioral and environmental factors. Findings indicate that children with more kindergarten, those whose families included co-resident grandmothers, and those who did not change schools between kindergarten and first grade did better over the transition. The transition into schooling was found to adjust child social roles, since children discovered that they are rated on their ability to please the teacher, impress peers, and forecast othersÕ reactions as well as on their academic abilities. They also learned that success is no longer guaranteed. Fitting in was found to be important since children who fit in well get better marks and gained more on standardized tests in the early grades than children who have fewer of these qualities. Researchers carried out a longitudinal study of a random sample of 790 children who began first grade in Baltimore in 1982 on the effects for children attending kindergarten. Because the sample was drawn from one district, it may not be representative of other locations. The study does not provide a detailed description of the methods or procedures used. The authors indicate implications for research and practice, including a need for descriptive research on the transition into kindergarten and into first grade, especially for diverse populations. More research is also needed on the degree to which differences in childrenÕs performance and adjustment to school increase over time, on ways the number of early transitions can be reduced, and on the impact of marks on early school outcomes. Practitioners are reminded that how well children perform in primary grades probably matters more for their future success than does their school performance at any other time, since variance across test scores gets larger over time. Authors caution educators to consider carefully the implications of assigning differential grades on future expectations. Furthermore, the study demonstrates a need to get all children into preschools, since inequities in early schooling are a major source of SES difference and that full-day kindergarten can help children from disadvantaged backgrounds do better in first grade.

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