Transitional kindergarten (TK) is one of the first steps California’s youngest schoolchildren take in their academic careers.
The Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010, signed into law by Gov. Schwarzenegger, changed the kindergarten entry date from Dec. 2 to Sept. 1 so that children enter kindergarten at age 5. The law phased in the new age requirement by moving the cutoff date one month a year for three years, and is now fully implemented.
The entry date change and the creation of TK address a longstanding need in California, as our children have historically started kindergarten at a younger age than kids in almost any other state – often without the maturity, social skills and early academic skills they need to succeed in kindergarten and beyond. At the same time, kindergarten standards and curriculum have changed over the years, and many of the skills children were once taught in first grade are now expected in kindergarten. The youngest kids in a kindergarten class risk struggling academically, emotionally and/or socially. At their young age, some may have limited experience interacting with peers and teachers, while others may not yet know how to listen or follow a structured class schedule. Likewise, many 4 year olds in California still do not have access to high quality preschool that also provides these learning opportunities for our children. TK ensures that children have these pivotal skills, which are foundations to successful learning, when they begin kindergarten
What Are The Benefits Of Transitional Kindergarten?
Transitional Kindergarten offers an additional year of school to our younger students. It provides opportunities to learn in an academically challenging and enriching environment. Children who attend Transitional Kindergarten are more likely to acquire the academic skills, confidence and maturity they need to succeed in school.
Research is clear that high-quality education for young learners is vitally important in assuring school success and plays a key role in closing the present achievement gap among groups of students. According to a study conducted by the RAND Corporation in 2007, the readiness gap mirrors the achievement gap of students in the primary grades. The RAND report demonstrates “that there are sizable gaps in the extent to which children in California enter school ready to learn, gaps that persist when student performance is measured in Kindergarten through the third grade (Cannon & Karoly, 2007, p. 59).
Data synthesized by long-term preschool studies found that children who participated in high-quality early childhood programs tended to have higher scores on math and reading achievement tests, greater language abilities, and fewer grade retentions. These data show that there was less need for special education intervention, remedial support, and there were lower dropout rates (Lynch, 2005).
Entering Kindergarten at an older age is an important early predictor for student success. Some studies indicate that students who are older when they enter Kindergarten demonstrate a significant boost in academic achievement, self-confidence, and healthful attitudes about school and learning (RAND, 2007)