California Schools To Introduce New Transitional Kindergarten Grade

11.09.2011 | Huffington Post

California is looking to add a new grade to its elementary schools that would place students who turn 5 between September and December in kindergarten for two years.

Transitional Kindergarten would move the cutoff birthday from December to September so that children who are not yet 5 years old would not officially enter kindergarten — California was one of the few states where 4-year-olds could start in the K-12 system, as long as they turned 5 by the beginning of December, KBAK-KBFX reports.

TK will be implemented into the state’s public school system in time for the 2012-2013 academic year, and will mark the first new grade to be added to the state’s system since 1891, KABC-TV reports.

“Often they didn’t have the maturity and the skills they needed to really succeed,” Deborah Kong of Preschool California told KABC-TV.

Schools that have tested the new grade are seeing positive results. Parent Garry Green tells KGO-TV that his son Nathaniel is doing well in kindergarten in part because of TK.

“They did a lot of arts and crafts that enabled him to work on making shapes that were pre-cursors to letters,” Green told KGO-TV. “I think that, in particular, was a great aspect of the curriculum.”

California’s move comes amid growing debate surrounding early education. A recent report says that more, and better, early education could help close California’s achievement gap.

Last month, 35 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico submitted applications for the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, a $500 million federal grant competition that encourages improved coordination, clearer learning standards and better access to early learning programs for low-income, high-need infants, toddlers and preschoolers.

President Barack Obama also announced Tuesday that Head Start pre-kindergarten centers will no longer automatically receive funding renewals and will instead be given grants based on an effectiveness evaluation.

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