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New report: CA trans-K helps but still needs improvement

Mike Szymanski | December 1, 2015

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new report from the American Institutes of Research shows that young children have up to five months of learning advantage compared with children who don’t get an extra year of kindergarten.

But the report — Impact of California’s Transitional Kindergarten Program, 2013-14 — also points out that there’s a long way to go in funding the pre-school program evenly throughout the state, finding enough children to enroll and creating enough of a diverse curriculum for the young students.

TK is the first year of a two-year kindergarten program, giving children an additional year of early education. Transitional Kindergarten Expansion (TE or TKE) is a new grade level that is replacing some preschool programs at 117 school sites in LAUSD.

“Children in transitional kindergarten are getting a significant boost in kindergarten readiness,” said Deborah Kong, president of Early Edge California, an early education advocacy group. “Now with new clarity in law about funding for expanded TK, districts are encouraged to offer an additional option to young learners and their families to build a strong foundation for success in school.”

All LAUSD elementary schools now offer TK programs, but as the report points out, many of those classes are mixed with kindergartners because there aren’t enough pre-school-aged children to fill an entire class. The district currently has 117 schools providing TKE classes for 4-year-olds, thanks to $14.3 million approved by the school board, with another 173 to follow in the 2016-2017 school year.

The report found that TK improved literacy skills and children who attended TK were significantly better able to identify letters and words in kindergarten than their peers who did not attend. TK also improved math knowledge and problem-solving skills
, such as counting objects, understanding measurement and completing word problems,

Further, being involved in TK helped children regulate their own behavior, remember rules and think flexibly, the report said. The state budget allowed school districts and charter schools to use state money to provide TK to children as soon as they turn 5.

The report also found that more than half of TK teachers said they received no professional development training specifically related to TK, and of the 42 hours of professional development, about 11 hours on average was spent on TK.

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