Students and their families are regularly confronted with a variety of transitions – changing schools, changing grades, encountering a range of other daily hassles and major life demands. Many of these can interfere with productive school involvement. A comprehensive approach to providing transition supports requires interventions within classrooms and school-wide and among schools sending and receiving students. The immediate goals are to enhance success during transitions and prevent transition problems. In addition, transition periods provide opportunities to promote healthy development, reduce alienation and increase positive attitudes toward school and learning, address systemic and personal barriers to learning and teaching, and re-engage disconnected students and families.

The focus is on concerns related to:

Starting school and newly arriving – students and their families, new staff, volunteers, visitors (e.g., comprehensive orientations, welcoming signs, materials, and initial receptions; social and emotional supports including peer buddy programs; accommodating special concerns of those from other countries and those arriving after periods of hospitalization)

Daily transitions — before school, changing classes, breaks, lunch, after school (e.g., preventing problems by ensuring positive supervision and safety; providing attractive recreational, enrichment, and academic support activities; using problems that arise as teachable moments related to enhancing social-emotional development)

Summer or intersession (e.g., catch-up, recreation, enrichment programs, service and workplace opportunities)

Matriculation – grade-to-grade – new classrooms, new teachers; elementary to middle school; middle to high school; in and out of special education programs; school-to-career/higher education transition (e.g., information; academic, vocational, and social-emotional counseling and related supports; pathway and articulation strategies; mentor programs; programs to support moving to post school living and work).

Shared Leadership & Vision

♦ Articulate vision for student success at the school, including academic and social emotional learning at each grade level

♦ Build strong relationships and supported connections with the prior and next school divisions, PreK-Post Secondary.

♦  Share commitment to increase postsecondary potential and opportunities for all students (not tracking)

Data Collection & Analysis to Match Needs & Assets

♦  Share referral and data between guidance counselors and college counselors

♦  Review Transition Forms and lists of students with Early Warning Indicators to  align supports and services

♦  Engage CBO and SFUSD partners across school communities to identify and support vulnerable students & families transitioning from one school to another

Continuous Learning & Improvement

♦  Review annual service and outcome data to set goals annually & monitor progress

♦ Use academic, attendance, and college process data to differentiate support from school and partners

♦  Offer and conduct joint professional development  (instructional and non-instructional) aligned to vision, goals, priorities

Intentional Coordination

♦  Facilitate regular transition or college team meetings with interdisciplinary and cross-functional staff & partners (e.g. Family Liaison, School Social Worker)

♦  Coordinate and co-plan interventions and events

♦  Create structures to build faculty understanding and support for college going culture (advisories, college days, PDs) and career relevance

♦  Build bridges between staff, partners and students across grade and school levels


Programs serving rising Kindergarteners, 6th graders, and 9th graders

Programs Serving Rising Kindergartners: “must provide support that focuses on school readiness including self-regulation, social and emotional learning, basic numeracy and math and literacy and phonemic awareness. Programs must also work with families, including follow up of at least six months, to promote and develop home practices that support school readiness.”

Programs Serving Rising 6th and 9th Graders: “must use a sequenced curriculum that includes at least two of the following topics: life skills, social and emotional learning and/or academic/career support. Programs should also ensure that participants have opportunities to explore college, career and other post-secondary relevant pathways and are able to engage in leadership development opportunities including service learning, civic engagement and/or leadership roles within the program. Programs must also work in partnership with families to create an Individual Learning Plan for each participant.”

Program Examples

Freshman Leadership Institute 4-week program targeting youth at risk of being on the EWI list to orient and empower new students.

High School Academy: For middle school programs to provide a warm hand-off for high school students

Incoming 6th Grade Tours: Alleviate anxiety and stress for incoming students by answering any and all questions and showing them around the school.

New Student Orientation: To introduce students to all school resources at the beginning of the year, host an orientation that includes school information and community building. Have a separate parent/family orientation simultaneously. Make sure to include families that have transferred into the school!

Workshop series for Pre-K Parents: Provide a 5 month series of workshops to pre-kindergarten families, that can include workshops like motor skills, reading and vocabulary building, social emotional learning and school readiness.

Other Tools & Resources
Transition Self-Study: This tool is a very comprehensive transition self-assessment from UCLA If you want to dig deep into your transition supports and offerings, this is a great tool.