Expanded TK Opportunity

A compelling body of evidence, compiled by respected experts over decades, confirms that high-quality early learning can substantially improve children’s readiness to succeed in K-12. In California, however, many children, particularly those who need it most, do not have access to these early learning opportunities. Our K-12 schools struggle to close achievement gaps that exist – and are better addressed – before children start kindergarten.

Transitional Kindergarten (TK) offers a valuable opportunity to prepare children for success in school, to offer additional early learning choices for families, and for school districts to start narrowing achievement gaps early by supporting the social-emotional, pre-literacy and early math skills children need to succeed in school and in life. Thanks to the recently approved 2015-16 state budget, in addition to providing State Preschool, Head Start and TK for a quarter of 4 year olds, school districts now have another local option to get more children ready for kindergarten through Expanded TK.

Expanded TK is a flexible and cost-effective way for school districts to offer school readiness opportunities to children who otherwise would not be able to enroll in TK, and who might not have access to any other prekindergarten programs in their community.

Under recently clarified education policy and statute1, districts can choose to serve more students by expanding their TK programs to enroll 4 year olds at the start of the school year, even if they turn 5 after the December 2 cutoff date. Some districts are planning to adopt or have been using this Expanded TK approach, using a combination of Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) dollars and Average Daily Attendance (ADA) state funding.

Early Edge California has interviewed early adopters of the Expanded TK approach, and has released a new brief, “Getting Students Ready: Expanded Transitional Kindergarten.” The brief details the varied approaches used by several school districts – from large urban to small rural ones – that are pioneering the use of Expanded TK to help children get the best possible start in school. Our goal is to support leaders in school districts that may be considering Expanded TK as an additional local school readiness strategy.

School Services of California, Inc., is working to develop tools to assist LEAs in conducting financial analyses of options for Expanded TK implementation. In a recently released Fiscal Report update, School Services notes a number of reasons why LEAs may with to consider the Expanded TK option as they begin the development of the Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs) for board adoption, including:

  • Closing the Opportunity and Achievement Gaps
  • Differentiating Instruction by Reducing “Combo” Classes
  • Reducing Downstream Costs
  • Optimizing Resources
  • Mitigating Declining Enrollment

If you are a subscriber of the School Services Fiscal Report, you can view the full update here.

Additional Expanded TK Resources

Early Edge California Webinar on Expanded TK Funding

Early Edge California ETK One-page Information Sheet

Early Edge California ETK One-pager for Districts and Charters

California Superintendent of Public Instruction’s Letter to Districts

California Department of Education Management Bulletin

Early Edge California Webinar on Using the ETK Cost-Benefit Calculator and Presentation Slides

School Services Expanded TK Cost-Benefit Calculator

1 Education Code 48000 (c)(3)(B), as amended by SB 77, Section 28


Early Edge California would like to learn more about individual districts’ knowledge of ETK and their plans for use of new funds that support ETK. We are asking early education administrators to take a moment to complete a brief survey about ETK.

This survey is an opportunity for district administrators to tell us about the types of resources and support that will be most helpful. Your responses to these questions will not be published.