California to add new elementary school grade

11.09.2011 | | Gretchen Davies

California is due to adopt and implement a new grade, first of its kind since 1891, to all public elementary schools across the state next school year, 2012-2013. It is called “Transitional Kindergarten” to address the “red shirting” age and developmental gap where the youngest children in the grade aften under perform compared to their older peers.

The TK (Transitional Kindergarten) grade will provide a 2nd year of kindergarten for children born between September and December, the youngest quintile of students in each grade. TK will be a pre-cursor to traditional kindergarte, teaching pre-kinder skills such as shapes and colors.

No details have come about on how cash strapped California- an additional $2 billion in education budget cuts is predicted for the upcoming year- will afford all these new teachers, buldings, curriculum, and infrastructure, all within a year’s timeframe nevertheless.

In 2010, the Inland Empire (San Bernardino and Riverside Counties) had 61,104 kindergarten students. Assuming 2012 will have equivalent enrollment, and that approximately 1/4th of students are born between September and December, the Inland Empire will provide TK to 15,276 children. The Inland Empire will need to hire approximately 764 teachers at an average beginning salary of $43,000 each (plus benefits), as well as build- in a hurry-additional classrooms, provide more special education staff, teacher’s aides, cafeteria aides, the list is endless.

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