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Transitional Kindergarten FAQs

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding California state law relating to kindergarten.

The California Department of Education (CDE) and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson fully support the Transitional Kindergarten (TK) program.

New TK Teacher Requirements
Admission Information
Funding Information
Program Information
Reporting Information
Teaching Information
Related Resources

New TK Teacher Requirements

  1. Do TK teachers need to have a teaching credential?

    Yes, in California, TK teachers need to have a teaching credential, just like Kindergarten teachers. Credentials that authorize instruction in TK programs are provided below:

    General:
    Kindergarten-Primary (grades K-3)
    Elementary (grades K-8)

    Standard:
    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 Internship Permit (PIP) authorizes the same service as a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential.

  2. What is the impact of Senate Bill 876 (Statutes 2014, Chapter 687) – EC 48000(g) – on TK Requirements?

    SB 876 added additional requirements for TK teachers. Pursuant to EC 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, 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.”

  3. What specific courses must teachers take in order to meet the 24-unit requirement? Do the courses need to have Early Childhood Development (ECD) prefixes? Also, can the courses be graduate and/or undergraduate units?

    Any teacher who is assigned to teach TK after July 1, 2015, will have until August 1, 2020, to meet the education requirements stated in EC 48000(g) (see requirements in Question 2). The CDE will not create an approved course list for 24 units in early childhood education, or childhood development, or both. As of the date of last review of this CDE Web page, any early childhood education or child development graduate or undergraduate units are appropriate. The CDE recommends reviewing the Child Development Permits leaflet External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) from CTC and contacting the CTC to determine if there are questions.

    Local planning councils (LPCs), county offices of education (COE), and the Child Development Training Consortium (CDTC) can be resources regarding what classes are available in your community and online. (See contact information at the bottom of this Web page.)

  4. Who will monitor a teacher’s progress to ensure the new TK teacher requirements are being met? How should LEAs document and keep records for teachers assigned to teach TK after July 1, 2015? Will CDE have forms employers need to fill out to certify the teachers’ qualifications?

    LEAs are responsible for ensuring that TK teachers meet statutory requirements.  The LEA of the credentialed teacher will follow the local process for personnel record keeping and will ensure the new TK teacher requirements are being met. The CDE will not provide forms for LEAs to complete regarding the verification of experience and education.

  5. How can I find out more information about the TK professional development stipends appropriated as Item 6110-196-0001 of the Budget Act of 2014?

    For further information regarding TK professional development stipends, please contact your Local Planning Council (LPC). (See contact information at the bottom of the Web page.)


Admission Information

  1. What is the Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010?

    Senate Bill (SB) 1381 (Chapter 705, Statutes of 2010) amended California Education Code (EC) (Section 46300, 48000, and 48010) to change the required birthday for admission to kindergarten and first grade and established a TK program.

  2. What is the minimum age for admittance to kindergarten in California?

    A child shall be admitted to a kindergarten maintained by the school district at the beginning of a school year, or at a later time in the same year if the child will have his or her fifth birthday on or before September 1 (EC 48000[a]).

  3. Must children attend TK or kindergarten?

    No. Since school is mandatory for six-year-old students, parents and guardians must enroll their children in school once they reach the age of six (EC Section 48200). It is a local decision, with parental input, whether the six-year-old student will be enrolled in kindergarten or first grade. For first grade enrollment, California law requires a child to be six years old on or before September 1 to be legally eligible for first grade (EC Section 48010).

  4. Can students who are age-eligible for kindergarten attend TK?

    Although this is a local decision, the CDE recommends that districts establish criteria to determine selection requirements for kindergarten eligible children who enroll in TK. Children who are age-eligible to attend kindergarten, but choose to enroll in TK will need a signed Kindergarten Continuance Form verifying that the parent/guardian agrees to have his/her child continue in kindergarten for one additional year. A sample form, in English and other languages, is available.

    Kindergarten Continuance Form (English) (PDF)
    Available Translations of the Kindergarten Continuance Form

    The Kindergarten Continuance Form is used by school districts to verify that parents agree to have their child continue in kindergarten for one additional year.

  5. Are students in TK also subject to the kindergarten immunization requirements?

    Yes. They are required to have documentation of required immunizations or a valid exemption prior to admission to TK.

  6. Are students in TK required to meet kindergarten immunization requirements before the first year or second year of the program?

    They are required to have immunizations before admission to TK and will be required to provide proof of immunizations during kindergarten registration.

  7. Can children who turn five years old after December 2 start TK at the beginning of the school year?

    No. Pursuant to EC 48000(c), a child is eligible for TK if the child will have his or her fifth birthday between September 2 and December 2.

    However, pursuant to EC 48000(b), local education agencies (LEAs) may enroll children in TK or kindergarten on or after their 5th birthday, on a case-by-case basis, if the governing board determines that the admittance is in the best interests of the child, and the parent or guardian is given information regarding the advantages and disadvantages, and any other explanatory information about the effect of this early admittance. Therefore, age-ineligible students (e.g., a child whose 5th birthday is on January 5) cannot attend school at the beginning of the school year, and cannot be admitted or attend school until they have attained the age of 5. Average Daily Attendance (ADA) can be claimed for these "late start" students on the day of their admittance.

    Children who are enrolled outside of the TK cohort dates of September 2 through December 2 need to have a signed Kindergarten Continuance Form at the end of the school year verifying that the parent/guardian agrees to have his/her child continue in kindergarten for one additional year. A sample form, in English and other languages, is available.

    Kindergarten Continuance Form (English) (PDF)
    Available Translations of the Kindergarten Continuance Form

    The Kindergarten Continuance Form is used by school districts to verify that parents agree to have their child continue in kindergarten for one additional year.


Funding Information

  1. How many years can a district claim apportionment for TK and kindergarten?

    Pursuant to EC 46300(g), districts may claim apportionment for a child for not more than two years in kindergarten or two years in a combination of TK and kindergarten.

  2. Can a district claim apportionment for TK if it does not use a modified curriculum that is age and developmentally appropriate?

    In order to claim apportionment for TK, districts must use a modified curriculum that is age and developmentally appropriate. California law (EC 48000) defines TK as “the first year of a two-year kindergarten program that uses a modified kindergarten curriculum that is age and developmentally appropriate.”

  3. How does TK affect basic aid districts?

    The laws apply equally to all districts, whether they receive State revenue limit funding or are basic aid.

  4. Does the Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010 provide funding for any other staffing?

    No, although other available funding may be used.

  5. Does the Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010 provide funding for professional learning?

    No, but the 2014 Budget Act includes $25 million in funding for professional development, including stipends for required early childhood education units.

  6. Can the same federal funding source used for kindergarten be used for TK (for example Title 1, Title III, EIA, etc.)?

    Yes. The same funding source and compliance requirements associated with kindergarten apply to TK.


Program Information

  1. Will TK continue after 2014?

    Yes, pursuant to California EC 48000(c)(3), in the 2014-15 school year and each school year thereafter, a child who has his or her fifth birthday between September 2 and December 2 of the school year shall be admitted to a transitional kindergarten program maintained by the school district.

  2. What is TK?

    TK is the first year of a two-year kindergarten program that uses a modified kindergarten curriculum that is age and developmentally appropriate. Pursuant to law, EC 48000(c), a child is eligible for TK if a child will have his or her fifth birthday between September 2 and December 2 (inclusive).

  3. How are TK programs different than preschool or other child development programs offered by Local Education Agencies (LEAs) for three and four year old children?

    TK programs, as defined in statute, are not preschool classrooms or child development programs. They are part of the K-12 public school system and are the first year of a two-year Kindergarten program, which uses a modified kindergarten curriculum. Pursuant to EC 48000(f), TK programs are intended to be aligned to the California Preschool Learning Foundations developed by the CDE. TK programs are required to be taught by a teacher who meets credentialing requirements.

    Preschool or other child development programs, offered by LEAs to prepare three and four year old children for school, are not required to be taught by persons meeting teacher credential requirements. Instead, they must meet separate child development permit requirements. LEAs should ensure that parents understand the difference between various locally implemented preschool programs intended to support kindergarten readiness and the transition to kindergarten from the TK program delineated in statute.

  4. Do charter schools have to offer TK?

    Yes, if an LEA provides kindergarten, they must also provide TK.

  5. I have been told that TK students have to have the same minutes of instruction as kindergarten students. My son's school has an extended-day schedule. Since kindergarten and TK are not mandatory, if I pick up my child at half-day, is that alright?

    Since TK and kindergarten are currently not mandated, it is a local decision whether you are permitted to pick up your child at half-day. A school attendance review board (SARB) meeting is recommended for any minor pupil, including a five year old, who is “irregular in attendance at school” pursuant to EC Section 48263.

    SARB takes referrals in three situations:

    • A minor pupil is a habitual truant (which requires the child to be between the ages of 6 and 18).
    • A minor pupil is irregular in attendance at school.
    • A minor pupil is habitually insubordinate or disorderly during attendance at school.


    Therefore, SARB may discuss the problem of irregular attendance, discuss the importance of regular school attendance, and link the parent to any needed community resources.

  6. Is a district required to offer TK and kindergarten programs?

    LEAs must offer TK and kindergarten classes for all age-eligible children to attend.

  7. Can TK and kindergarten students be enrolled in the same classroom?

    Although the intent of the law is to provide separate and unique experiences for TK and kindergarten students, districts have flexibility to determine how best to meet the curricular needs of each child.

  8. Are TK students required to complete the entire two-year program?

    This is a local decision.

  9. How many minutes does a TK program have to offer?

    Pursuant to EC 37202, TK programs operated by a district must be of equal length to any kindergarten programs operated by the same district, unless there is an approved State Board of Education waiver on file. By statute, the maximum school day in kindergarten is 4 hours (EC 46110). An exception to this statute allows schools that have adopted an early primary program (extended-day kindergarten) to exceed 4 hours (EC 8973). Furthermore, EC 48000 states that a TK shall not be construed as a new program or higher level service. The number of required instructional minutes for TK is 36,000 minutes per year; the minimum length of instructional time that must be offered to constitute a school day is 180 minutes (EC 46117 and 46201).

  10. Is there a Kindergarten Continuance Form to continue a child from TK into kindergarten?

    Children eligible to enroll in TK do not need a signed Kindergarten Continuance Form to continue in kindergarten.

  11. Are standards available for TK?

    Recommended standards at all grade levels are not mandatory but voluntary. LEAs will make the decision of what standards or learning foundations are to be part of the local course of study. For guidance in creating a TK course, LEAs may look at California’s Preschool Learning Foundations, California Preschool Curriculum Frameworks, California Academic Content Standards, the Common Core State Standards for English Language Art and Mathematics, and the Transitional Kindergarten Implementation Guide (PDF).

  12. What is the curriculum for TK?

    California law (EC 48000) defines TK as “the first year of a two-year kindergarten program that uses a modified kindergarten curriculum that is age and developmentally appropriate.” While no state curriculum is mandated, pursuant to EC 48000(f), TK programs are intended to be aligned to the California Preschool Learning Foundations developed by the CDE. The Transitional Kindergarten Implementation Guide (PDF) is also a resource.

  13. What are the Williams requirements for students in TK?

    While instructional materials must be provided to all pupils, the governing board of a school district determines standards-aligned instructional materials and how those materials are to be modified and age-appropriate for TK. EC 60119 states "’sufficient textbooks or instructional materials’ means that each pupil, including English learners, has a standards-aligned textbook, instructional materials, or both, to use in class and to take home. This paragraph does not require two sets of textbooks or instructional materials for each pupil. The materials may be in a digital format as long as each pupil, at a minimum, has and can access the same materials in the class and to take home, as all other pupils in the same class or course in the district and has the ability to use and access them at home."

  14. How will the needs of English learners be addressed in TK?

    LEAs will provide a Home Language Survey to be completed by the parent or guardian which will aid the school in determining whether or not the student should be administered the California English Language Development Test (CELDT). Students who are English learners in a TK will have the same level of services as those in kindergarten.

  15. How will the needs of parents of English learners be addressed in TK?

    California law (EC 48985) requires that “all notices, reports, statements, or records sent to the parent or guardian of any such pupil by the school or school district shall, in addition to being written in English, be written in the primary language, and may be responded to either in English or the primary language.” This applies to parents of English learners in TK.

  16. What type of facility should be used for TK?

    Facility requirements will be the same as they presently are for kindergarten.

  17. Will TK have the same statutory class size limits as regular kindergarten (33 maximum/31 average)? What about Class Size Reduction for TK?
    The same requirements that apply to kindergarten also apply to TK.

Reporting Information

  1. Are districts required to report TK information via the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS)?

    Yes. Student participation in a TK program must be reported via CALPADS. Districts are required to obtain statewide student identifiers for all kindergarten students, including TK students. Students participating in a TK program are enrolled in CALPADS with a grade level of Kindergarten. The required CALPADS Education Program Code for TK is 185, which indicates participation in a TK program. LEAs and users with CALPADS-related questions should consult relevant CALPADS documentation on the CALPADS System Documentation Web page.

  2. How should a school report TK students for the kindergarten annual immunization assessment report?

    For each year students attend TK or kindergarten, the school will report their immunization status. On the reporting form, there will be no differentiation between TK or kindergarten students. Reporting is available at the California Department of Health, Shots for School External link opens in new window or tab..

  3. Can a child who turns five between September 2 and December 2 be admitted to TK starting on the first day of school in August? If so, can we only claim ADA from the time the child turns five years old, or can we claim ADA in August as well?

    For purposes of the P-1 report, the TK ADA should be combined with the regular Kindergarten ADA on the Kindergarten line(s). The TK ADA should also be reported on Line C-3, for informational purposes, for school districts, and A-0 for charter schools. If the school districts and charter schools are unable to properly report the data for C-3 or A-0 at P-1, they can report it properly at P-2. ADA can be claimed for TK students from the first day of the school year as long as the TK students turn five by December 2.


Teaching Information

  1. What is the teacher-student ratio for TK?

    This is a local district decision and will most likely be impacted by budget and contract agreements.

  2. Can TK teachers “loop” (remain) with their students into kindergarten?

    The decision to have teachers move through the grades with their students from TK to kindergarten (and beyond) is a local decision.


Related Resources

Additional information about the child development teacher permit is available on the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Child Development Permits Web site External link opens in new window or tab..
For further information regarding appropriate assignment and authorization please contact the CTC at the following e-mail: cawassignments@ctc.ca.gov or at the CTC’s Assignment Unit: 916-322-5038.

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Questions: Kathleen Halvorson | KHalvorson@cde.ca.gov | 916-323-4629  Early Education and Support Division | 916-322-6233
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