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New grade added to California schools

11.09.2011 | Bakersfield Now | Jose Gaspar

California will add a new grade to its elementary schools starting in 2012. It’s called transitional kindergarten, the first of a two-year kindergarten experience for students who turn 5 between September and December.

“What they’ve basically done is created a two year kindergarten with transitional kindergarten and traditional kindergarten,” said Tammy Burns with the Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office.

California is among just a few states that allows kids who are still 4 years old to enter kindergarten, so long as they turn 5 by Dec. 2. Each year, beginning next fall, the deadline for turning 5 will be moved back a month, so in three years all children will have to be 5 years old when they start school.

The new law means that children who turn 5 between September and December will have to enroll in transitional kindergarten, and once they complete that year, they will then go on to a regular or traditional kindergarten classroom.

Some educators say children who start kindergarten at age 4 are too young for the academic and social demands of today’s kindergarten experience. Supporters of transitional kindergarten say the goal is to better prepare children to succeed in kindergarten and beyond, providing parents with a beneficial option to help children.

School districts, though, are still trying to figure out the logistics of implementing the new grade.

“There’s a lot of issues that go into play,” said Steve Gabbitas with the Bakersfield City School District.

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