In 1990, the U. S. Congress authorized The National Head Start/Public School Early Childhood Transition Demonstration Study project designed to enhance the early public school transitions of former Head Start children and their families. Former Head Start children, like many other children living in poverty, were at risk for poor school achievement. This new program was launched to test the value of extending comprehensive, Head Start-like supports "upward" through the first four years of elementary school.
The 31 local Transition Demonstration Programs all implemented major programs related to:
- parent involvement activities;
- educational enhancement, especially to promote use of developmentally appropriate practices and continuity in children's educational experiences
- family social support services; and
- health and nutrition.
The National Head Start/Public School Early Childhood Transition Demonstration Study project, administered by the Head Start Bureau of the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families, funded 31 local Transition Demonstration Programs in 30 states and the Navajo Nation from the 1991-92 school year through the 1997-98 school year and involved more than 450 public schools.
The National Transition Demonstration Study was conducted to provide information about the implementation of this program and its impact on children, families, schools, and communities. The study design involved random assignment of schools to a Transition Demonstration group, which received additional supports and staff funded by this project, or to a Comparison group. A total of 7,515 former Head Start children and families were enrolled in the National Study in 1992/93 and 1993/94. Thousands of other children and families, however, participated in the Transition Demonstration Program, since supports and educational enhancements were offered to all children and families in the classrooms.