FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 8, 2021
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SIMITIAN APPLAUDS GOVERNOR’S PROPOSAL TO EXPAND TRANSITIONAL KINDERGARTEN
Earlier today Governor Gavin Newsom released his Fiscal Year 2021-2022 January Budget proposal which would expand California’s Transitional Kindergarten program. In response, County Supervisor Joe Simitian issued the following statement:
“I applaud and wholeheartedly support Governor Newsom’s proposal to expand Transitional Kindergarten (TK) to include younger students. As the author of the Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010 (SB 1381), I know the benefits of this program. Expanding TK in this fashion will result in more children being better prepared for success in kindergarten and all the years that follow.”
“The success of California’s TK program over the years has always raised the question: Can we help even more early learners? It appears the answer is: Yes!”
Simitian’s Kindergarten Readiness Act (SB 1381) was enacted in 2010. Historically, state law required children to be 5 years old by December 2 to enroll in Kindergarten. When SB 1381 changed the cutoff to September 1, Transitional Kindergarten (TK) was created as a new additional grade for children who turned 5 between September 1 and December 2 (so called “young fives”).
The Transitional Kindergarten created by SB 1381 was the first new grade level established in California in more than 100 years, and was designed to give “young fives” age-appropriate instruction to prepare them for their entry into Kindergarten. The budget savings from the bill were used to pay the cost of TK, but only for the roughly ¼ of students each year whose age qualified them for the program. The Governor’s proposal has the potential to significantly expand the number of students eligible for and benefiting from TK.
The Governor’s Fiscal Year 2021-2022 January Budget proposal would expand high-quality TK programs for all four-year-olds by allocating $250 million for districts to expand these programs to students born outside the current September-December window. The Budget also includes $200 million for TK and Kindergarten facilities and $50 million for professional development focused on preparing teachers for early childhood programs.
In May 2017, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) issued the final report of its multi-year effort to study the impact of California’s TK program. AIR’s initial finding that TK has a significant positive impact on preparing children for success in kindergarten was confirmed in the final report.
The final report compared achievement levels of kindergartners who had attended TK with those who had not. The study found that the TK program is effective for all students, but shows particular advantages for low-income students and English learners. More specifically, TK gives students a boost of three to six months of learning in literacy and mathematics skills at kindergarten entry.
These findings were regardless of classroom characteristics or different approaches to teaching; which could mean that the features that all TK programs have in common – credentialed teachers, alignment with kindergarten, and inclusion of students from all income levels – are what drive TK’s positive impact.