Tulare elementary schools consider pre-K classes

12.13.2011 | Visalia Times-Delta | Victor Garcia

The Tulare City School District is preparing to offer a new grade level — transitional kindergarten.

The district’s board of education will discuss that subject and several others at their meeting 7 p.m. today.

Tulare City Schools and every other public school district in California have been developing curriculum for the new state-mandated program.

For each of next three years, the required fifth birthday for starting kindergarten is being moved back statewide. For the current school year it is Dec. 2.

  • 2012-13: Students born up until Nov. 1
  • 2013-14: Oct. 1
  •  2014-15: Sept. 1

Any student whose fifth birthday falls after the Nov. 1 next year is eligible for transitional kindergarten, rather than kindergarten.

Paula Adair, Tulare City Schools curriculum director, said the curriculum will be developmental in its approach.

A transitional kindergarten student would have more developmental activities than a kindergarten student, Adair said.

“There would be more breaks and more time for interacting,” she said.

The state, so far, hasn’t issued a required curriculum for transitional kindergarten.

Luis Castellanoz, superintendent, said school districts have been wondering if the state will issue a mandated curriculum.

The state has issued one guideline, he said.

“It can’t be your kindergarten curriculum. It can’t be a preschool curriculum. It has to be something in-between,” Castellanoz said.

The district plans on having at least one transitional kindergarten class at each elementary school with the expectation of about 20 students in the class, he said.

Transitional kindergarten would be full-day and would follow the same school district calendar as the other grade levels.

Parents of students whose birthday follows after the cutoff date for kindergarten can petition the school district for their child to be allowed in kindergarten after his or her birthday.

The student would be assessed on his or her social emotional and physical learning skills and meet with a school psychology to go over the assessment, Adair said.

After the assessment is done, it would be given to the school board for final approval or denial, she said.

Feedback on the transitional kindergarten program has been positive so far, Adair said.

Castellanoz said he sees the program giving children an opportunity to mature, get confident and feel successful prior to going into a true kindergarten program.

Transitional kindergarten is an optional program.

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