LASD prepares to implement transitional kindergarten next fall

11.16.2011 | Los Altos Town Crier | Traci Newell

To comply with Senate Bill 1381, which changes the entry age for kindergarten, Los Altos School District officials are preparing to open a transitional kindergarten program.

Effective beginning with the 2012-2013 school year, the bill requires children to turn 5 years old by Nov. 1 to enter kindergarten. Currently, the cutoff date is Dec. 2. The Kindergarten Readiness Act annually backs the cutoff date to Sept. 1, phasing in the change a month at a time over three years.

The act also calls for the implementation of a transitional kindergarten, the first of a two-year kindergarten program, for children with birthdays that fall between Sept. 1 and Dec. 2, who would be too young under the new cutoff date to enter regular kindergarten.

The transitional kindergarten acts as a bridge between early learning and kindergarten, using a modified kindergarten curriculum that is age and developmentally appropriate.

Assistant Superintendent Alyssa Gallagher said the district is moving forward with plans for a transitional kindergarten program, which will begin next year for enrolled kindergarten students who turn 5 Nov. 2 through Dec. 2.

Gallagher said that after reviewing enrollment forecasts, the district should expect approximately 20 entering students who qualify. Because the number is low, she said the best model for the district is to open one class at one school next year.

Gallagher determined which schools have the most difficult time with kindergarten retention – Almond and Santa Rita – and settled on scheduling the class at Almond next year.

The Santa Clara County Office of Education, which provides curriculum creation assistance, is collaborating with Gallagher and the Transitional Kindergarten Steering Committee on revising the kindergarten registration materials and clarifying the difference between the traditional and transitional kindergarten programs for new parents.

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