LAUSD Expands Access to TK

Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is moving forward with an innovative new Transitional Kindergarten Expansion Plan, intended to fill a void created by the phasing out of another early learning program district leaders decided they could no longer afford.

“I believe the foundation of language and literacy for young children begins with a structured, developmentally appropriate, high quality early childhood education program,” said LAUSD Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines. “This is particularly true for our low-income students who might not have had access to early education in the past. These programs play a fundamental role in long term success of our students and it is imperative we continue to make them available to our highest-need students.”

LAUSD will offer Expanded TK to 4 year olds in 117 sites throughout the district, as long as they turn 5 sometime during the school year. This policy change will allow 4 year olds to enroll in transitional kindergarten at the start of the school year and the district will use local funding to pay for the program while children are 4. Once they turn 5, the school district will use Average Daily Attendance (ADA) funding.

The TK Expansion program is a 6-hour, 180 school day program and will be targeted toward low-income students who qualify for the Free/Reduced Meal program. It will be grounded in the California Preschool Curriculum Framework and will follow the standards included in the Preschool Learning Foundations. The students will be assessed on the Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP2015).

TK Expansion teachers will be encouraged to participate in the LA County Office of Childcare stipend program which rewards teachers who enroll in a TK certificate program. Additionally, the Early Childhood Education Division, in conjunction with the Office of Curriculum, Instruction and School Support will provide professional learning opportunities for teachers throughout the school year.

The LAUSD Expanded TK program will provide another kindergarten readiness option while allowing for greater flexibility and increased local control to offer early learning opportunities to more children. We look forward to working with LAUSD to ensure this program is high quality and developmentally appropriate.

This option also presents an opportunity for current providers to serve more 3 year olds through preschool programs. LAUSD is ensuring the California State Preschool Program remains viable at the sites identified for the TK Expansion Program because capacity enrollment is required through their contract with CDE. LAUSD is working specifically with the CSPP sites to enroll 3 year olds to fulfill this requirement by enrolling them in the part-day, 3-hour CSPP program.

As part of our efforts to provide resources and support to ensure a developmentally appropriate, high-quality TK experience, as we have done since transitional kindergarten was created by Senate Bill 1381, in 2010, Early Edge California has released a new brief, “Getting Students Ready: Expanded Transitional Kindergarten,” that explores this local option. Specifically, the brief discusses flexible and cost-effective ways in which school districts can make use of state funding for TK, similar to the model LAUSD is implementing in Fall 2015.

Voices from the Field