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Our new series covers California’s Transitional Kindergarten (TK) expansion in the 2022-23 school year through interviews with school districts and institutes of higher learning across the state to highlight strategies they have employed to make expansion successful.
TK Expansion in Action: How Lodi Unified is Successfully Staffing New TK Classrooms
As California continues to move toward full expansion of Universal Transitional Kindergarten (UTK) by the 2025-26 school year, a key area districts are focused on for successful implementation is staff recruitment. Central Valley’s Lodi Unified School District (USD) developed and activated a strategic plan to engage new TK staff and has successfully reached full capacity. As districts continue their recruitment efforts for TK staff, Lodi USD’s efforts provide an example of strategic teacher recruitment and retention.
TK Expansion in Action: Professional Learning: Best Practices and Evolving Policies from The UTK Leadership Initiative by 21CSLA
As California continues to move towards fully expanding Universal Transitional Kindergarten (UTK) by 2026, a major part of this effort is recruiting candidates and preparing the workforce. While much of the focus is on ensuring teachers have the required Multiple Subject credential and 24 units of Early Childhood Education and/or Child Development for lead TK teachers, some Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) in California are engaged in complementary efforts aimed at preparing this workforce by way of professional learning. One example is the UTK Leadership Initiative created by the 21st Century California School Leadership Academy (21CSLA) State Center – a collaboration between UC Berkeley School of Education, the UCLA School of Education, and the California Subject Matter Project.
TK Expansion in Action: School Districts Develop Strategies to Support TK Children and Families in Potty Training
As Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) across the state continue to expand Transitional Kindergarten (TK) to all 4-year-olds, districts, school staff, and teachers are learning how to best support younger children in new environments. One area many schools are currently focused on is supporting younger TK children who may not be completely potty-trained yet. This effort also includes supporting teachers who are providing toileting support. Learn more about what districts are doing to support children, families, and teachers, as well as some best practices in supporting toileting and potty training.
TK Expansion in Action: The Early Development of a PK-3 Credential Program at California State University, Los Angeles
The PK-3 Early Childhood Education Specialist Credential focuses on developmentally appropriate practices for children in grades PreK through 3rd grade, preparing candidates to design, implement, and facilitate learning activities which engage students at their developmental levels. Now that the PK-3 Credential has been approved and is going through the regulations process, institutions of higher education (IHEs) are currently working towards developing the preparation programs to be able to officially offer it to students. While the development of these preparation and credential programs are still in their infancy, great progress is being made at IHEs, such as the California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) where interdepartmental collaboration is key in developing this program.
TK Expansion in Action: The University of California Develops Transitional Kindergarten Residency Program to Support Workforce Pathway
Efforts are underway to ensure that California schools are prepared to provide universal access to Transitional Kindergarten (TK) by the 2025-26 implementation deadline. One area critical to the successful implementation of universal TK is increasing the number of educators qualified to teach in TK classrooms. It is currently estimated that the state will need 12,000-16,000 more lead TK teachers by the implementation date. To meet this need, UC Merced is leading an effort within the University of California (UC) system to attract and prepare more TK teachers to serve in classrooms in the Central Valley and across California through the development of the UC TK Residency Program.
TK Expansion in Action: Developing a Local Equivalency Option for Early Childhood Education and Childhood Unit Requirements for Teaching TK
This year, many districts are focused on ensuring that their credentialed teachers have the Early Learning requirements to teach in Transitional Kindergarten (TK) ahead of August 1st, the deadline when credentialed teachers who were first assigned to a TK classroom after July 1, 2015 must meet the requirements. Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) developed an Early Childhood Micro-Credential as the comparable local equivalency option for TK teachers who do not have 24 units ECE/CD. LAUSD’s Early Childhood Micro-Credential prepares educators of children, ages 2-8 years, to effectively teach and support Early Learning. The ultimate goal of the Early Childhood Micro-Credentialing process is to ensure that teachers become accomplished Early Learning educators, able to enact positive change in their classroom and school and improve achievement for students in LAUSD.
TK Expansion in Action: Supporting Principal and Site Leadership Understanding of Young Learners’ Needs at Alisal USD
Principals and school site leadership play a critical role in shaping the culture and climate of a school. Accordingly, they also play a large part in ensuring the implementation of a successful Transitional Kindergarten (TK) program at their school site. While principals and site leadership have strong backgrounds in elementary education, many are still newer to TK and serving preschool-aged children on their campus. As TK expands and younger 4-year-olds are served at elementary schools, professional development is critical in helping to support site leadership to create a school culture that better understands and meets the needs of young children. One school district that has had a long-time practice of leading professional development specifically geared towards its leadership is Alisal Union School District (AUSD), an elementary school district in Monterey County.
TK Expansion in Action: Creating a Job Description for the Second Adult in a TK Classroom
With the commencement of the school year, California shifted its requirements for Transitional Kindergarten (TK) classroom sizes and staffing. The new requirements lowered the student-adult ratio to 12:1 and average maximum classroom sizes of 24 students. Each TK classroom is also required to have at least one lead TK teacher. However, while there are requirements for the lead teacher in a TK classroom, there are no requirements for the second adult needed in TK classrooms to support achieving the lower ratio. The criteria for the second adult in the classroom has provided school districts flexibility in determining how to staff their classrooms. Rather than hiring for a general paraprofessional or aide, some school districts, such as Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and Santa Clara Unified School District (SCUSD), have developed tailored job descriptions specific to the second adult in a TK classroom to ensure that they have guidelines to help them identify ideal candidates.
TK Expansion in Action: Santa Clarita Valley Showcases LEA & Higher Education Partnerships to Meet TK Teaching Requirements
As Local Education Agencies (LEAs) across the state are in the midst of expanding Transitional Kindergarten (TK) to serve all four-year-olds, many districts are also grappling with the challenge of ensuring that all of their lead TK teachers have both a Multiple Subject Credential and 24 units of Early Childhood Education and/or Child Development (ECE/CD) by the time the TK educator requirements go into effect on August 1, 2023 (as required in California Education Code, Section 48000). School districts are getting creative to meet this fast approaching deadline and developing partnerships with their local institutions of higher education. One such district is Saugus Union School District (SUSD), an elementary school district nestled in the Santa Clarita Valley, which has reached out to its local community college to support their credentialed teachers in achieving the necessary ECE/CD units to be lead TK teachers.
Ventura County School Districts Expand Access to TK Ahead of Schedule
When the school year kicked off in Ventura County this August, more than 3,250 4-year-olds attended their first day of TK in 108 school sites across the county. As of the 2022-23 school year, 78 percent of districts in Ventura County have expanded to serve more 4-year-olds than the state’s eligibility requirements, currently 4-year-olds born between September 2nd and February 2nd. But why are so many districts in Ventura County expanding early? Reasoning varies from district to district, but one factor that may be hard to ignore is that Ventura County is experiencing one of the highest rates of declining enrollment in the state – and early TK expansion could be a way to curb the negative budget impacts brought on by declining enrollment.
San Diego Unified Surpasses Goal Enrollment for Transitional Kindergarten Expansion
As children, parents, and teachers all make the final preparations to get ready to go back to school in the next few weeks, San Diego Unified (SDUSD) has already laid the foundation to ensure a successful year ahead. As declining enrollment is reported in school districts across the state and country, SDUSD has managed to surpass its enrollment expectations for Transitional Kindergarten (TK) for the 2022-23 school year. When SDUSD opens its doors on the first day of school on August 29, they will have more than 4,000 students enrolled in 185 TK classrooms across all elementary school sites.