Credential Requirements

Because TK is the first year of a two-year kindergarten experience, the credential requirements for TK teachers are the same as those currently required of kindergarten teachers. Job descriptions typically used for TK are the same as those used for kindergarten teachers, although prior experience in early childhood education is especially important in supporting the early learning experiences of younger children in a developmentally appropriate manner.

In 2011, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing released a Credential Information Alert that describes the specific credential requirements per the legislation that established transitional kindergarten. TK teachers need the same credentials that are currently accepted for kindergarten teachers. The credential information alert outlines the following:


Kindergarten-Primary (grades K-3)
Elementary (grades K-9)


Early Childhood (grades preschool-3)
Elementary (grades K-9)

Ryan/SB 2042:

Multiple Subject (grades preschool, K-12 and adults)
Multiple Subject University Intern (grades preschool, K-12 and adults)
Multiple Subject District Intern (grades K-8)
Specialist Instruction Credential in Early Childhood Education

A Multiple Subject General Education Limited Assignment Permit (GELAP), Multiple Subject Short-Term Staff Permit (STSP), or Multiple Subject Provisional Internships Permit (PIP) authorize the same service as a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential.

The information alert also notes that TK classrooms serving English learners require teachers who are authorized to provide instructional services for English learners (e.g., English Language Development (ELD) or Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English (SDAIE)).

2014-15 State Budget Update to TK Teacher Requirements

California’s 2014-15 state budget included additional language about TK teacher qualifications, as well as funding to help support transitional kindergarten teachers in earning units in early childhood education. Pursuant to Education Code 48000(g), a school district or charter school shall ensure that credentialed teachers who are first assigned to a TK classroom after July 1, 2015, have, by August 1, 2020, one of the following:

  1. At least 24 units in early childhood education, or childhood development, or both.
  2. As determined by the LEA employing the teacher, professional experience in a classroom setting with preschool age children that is comparable to the 24 units of education described in bullet 1.
  3. A child development teacher permit issued by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC).

Any current credentialed teacher who is or was assigned to teach TK, or a combination class of kindergarten and TK, on or before July 1, 2015, is “grandfathered in” to teach TK without having to meet additional requirements. Any credentialed teacher assigned to teach TK, or a combination class of kindergarten and TK, after July 1, 2015, will have until August 1, 2020, to meet the above-mentioned education requirements.

In addition to addressing teacher requirements, EC 48000(f) states: “It is the intent of the Legislature that transitional kindergarten curriculum be aligned to the California Preschool Learning Foundations developed by the department.”