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Universal Prekindergarten FAQs

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding California state law relating to Universal Prekindergarten (UPK) and Transitional Kindergarten (TK).

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

NOTE: The CDE is working to integrate earlier TK Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) into the broader UPK FAQs. (Additional information coming soon)

UPK FAQs

UPK FAQs
UPK Grants Funding Logistics
Teacher Workforce
TK Admission Information
TK Funding and Reporting Information
TK Program Information
Instructional Minutes Information
Related Resources

UPK FAQs

  1. How is the CDE supporting inclusive practices, particularly supports for challenging behaviors in UPK? (New 06-May-2022)
    • The revision of the California Preschool Learning Foundations, with a target release date of 2023, as well as the California Department of Education’s (CDE’s) Preschool through Third Grade (P-3) Alignment Initiative, seeks to address and potential for inequities, address bias, and promote equitable opportunity for all children.
    • California has made significant strides by adopting legislation which sets forth specific steps that must be taken when a child exhibits serious challenging behaviors before a California State Preschool Program (CSPP) can expel or disenroll a child.
    • The Inclusive Early Education Expansion Program (IEEEP) provides funding to increase access to inclusive early learning and care (ELC) programs for children with disabilities, including children with severe disabilities.
    • To support local educational agency (LEA) leaders in implementing UPK, particularly with regard to early education concepts, agencies, and structures, the CDE has developed Guidance for the California Prekindergarten Planning and Implementation Grant Program. This guidance is meant to support LEAs in the development of their UPK Plan for consideration by the LEA’s governing board or body at a public meeting on, or before, June 30, 2022. The guidance document can be found at the following link:
  2. What prekindergarten programs may parents choose from? (Updated 19-October-2022)
    • Transitional kindergarten (TK) is a universally accessible and free program for age-eligible four-year-old children (to be available at no-cost to all four-year-old children by the 2025-26 school year) and parents may choose to enroll their children in a TK program or any other prekindergarten program for which the family is eligible including, but not limited to, the California State Preschool Program (CSPP), Head Start, in addition to subsidized programs administered by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS). TK is not mandatory for children. Families who choose to enroll their children in TK remain eligible for subsidized early learning and care programs, including, but not limited to part-day CSPP, and will be able to choose to send their child to those programs, space permitting, as long as the hours of operation do not overlap with the hours of TK. Families may also continue to choose to enroll their children in private preschool or prekindergarten programs or keep their children at home until the age of six, when compulsory education begins.
  3. As part of UPK expansion, how are the California Preschool Learning Foundations being updated? (Updated 27-May-2022)
    • The updates of the California Preschool Learning Foundations will incorporate recent research in the field, including best practices to support dual language learners (DLL), reduce racial bias, and better support the inclusion of children with disabilities. The California Department of Education (CDE) will engage with teachers, child development and equity, diversity, inclusion researchers, and constituency groups as primary sources of input into the review and development of the updated California Preschool Learning Foundations.
    • Additionally, the CDE will be updating the California Preschool Learning Foundations to extend up through third grade, which aligns with the CDE’s Preschool through Third Grade (P-3) Alignment Initiative. The P-3 Alignment Initiative seeks to 1) elevate the importance of alignment and coherence across early grades and systems, and 2) support improved coordination of policies and practices in and across early childhood education settings, through transitions to preschool, Transitional Kindergarten (TK), Kindergarten, and across the early grades and beyond.
    • The California Preschool Learning Foundations work is grounded in the principle that starting early matters. Ensuring children have high-quality early learning opportunities and making sure the positive outcomes of these experiences are sustained through the early elementary years is the best way to provide all children with a strong foundation from which to thrive in future years.
  4. What is UPK and how is it related to Universal Transitional Kindergarten (UTK)? (Updated 27-May-2022)
    • UPK is an umbrella term that includes the California State Preschool Program (CSPP), TK at the California Department of Education, as well as Head Start, district and local community-based preschool programs, early learning services for students with disabilities, private pay preschool, and expanded learning options to support access to a full day of services.
    • While participation in UPK and choice of which program is optional, TK is the only option within the broader UPK frame that will be universally available, and free of cost, for all four-year old children as part of California’s public education system.
    • California’s goal is to serve more children ages 3-to 4-years-old, statewide, in high-quality preschool programs. California intends to meet this goal through the implementation of universally available TK, as well as investments in other state-funded programs, such as funding to expand the CSPP and other state-subsidized programs that offer a preschool learning experience.
    • In 2021, legislation was passed that requires any local educational agency (LEA) operating a Kindergarten to also provide a TK program for all 4-year-old children by 2025–26. UTK means that by 2025–26, regardless of background, race, zip code, immigration status, or income level, every child will have access to TK as a quality learning experience the year before Kindergarten.
  5. Will there be a mixed delivery so private preschools can continue to be part of educating our young children and giving parents choices?
    • Universal prekindergarten (UPK) is a mixed delivery system that also includes the California State Preschool Program (CSPP) which the California Department of Education (CDE) operates, along with other prekindergarten programs serving three- and four-year-old children, including the federal Head Start Program, subsidized programs that operate a preschool learning experience and are operated by community-based organizations (CBOs)--including family childcare--, and private preschool.
  6. A district with a very robust preschool program would like to provide their four-year-old children with Universal Transitional Kindergarten (UTK) through their preschool program. Would this be permissible?
    • Districts are required to offer transitional kindergarten (TK) to all children that are eligible (based on the year of universal transitional kindergarten [UTK] phase-in implementation) and wish to enroll. However, families are also allowed to choose other prekindergarten options, such as California State Preschool Program (CSPP) or Head Start, if they are eligible for those programs. If, for example, parents continue to choose the local educational agency's (LEA’s) existing preschool programs instead of TK, the district TK enrollment may end up being relatively small.
    • As part of LEA’s universal prekindergarten (UPK) plan due to their governing board or body by June 30, 2022, the LEA should conduct outreach to parents with children who will be eligible for UTK to determine whether they will want to enroll in UTK or in another preschool option. By better understanding parent needs, the LEA can plan how to meet the requirements around providing TK to all eligible children who are interested and also leveraging the benefits of their existing robust preschool programs.
    • Additionally, any children enrolled in TK can also receive extended learning and care through the district’s existing CSPP program or Head Start, if eligible, or through other extended learning programs.
  7. What does universally available Transitional Kindergarten (UTK) mean? (Updated 26-September-2022)
    • Education Code section 48000(c) requires any school district operating a Kindergarten to also provide a TK program for all 4-year-old children by 2025–26. Universally available TK means that by 2025–26, regardless of background, race, zip code, immigration status, or income level, every child whose fourth birthday occurs by September 1 will have access to TK at a school district as a quality learning experience the year before Kindergarten.
      • In 2022–23, children turning five between September 2 and February 2* are eligible for TK. The age by which children are eligible for TK will expand over the next three years as follows:
        • In the 2023–24 school year, children who will turn five between September 2 and April 2* are eligible for TK.
        • In the 2024–25 school year, children who turn five between September 2 and June 2* are eligible for TK.
        • In the 2025–26 school year, and in each school year thereafter, children who will turn four by September 1* are eligible for TK.
          *Inclusive of these dates
        • Children who turn five after the applicable cutoff date for TK eligibility between the 2022–23 and 2025–26 school year may be admitted at the discretion of the LEA and parents. The LEA will not generate average daily attendance (ADA) for a child whose birthday occurs outside of the date provided in Education Code (EC) Section 48000(c) until the child turns five years old. At the LEA discretion, the LEA may apply for California State Preschool Program (CSPP) funding to support enrollment of children that are not age eligible for TK but do meet the other eligibility requirements for CSPP. Additionally, the LEA may choose to include funding from its Local Control and Accountability Plan to offer UPK to these children.
  8. What is Transitional Kindergarten (TK)? (Updated 26-September-2022)
    • The Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010 created transitional kindergarten, the first year of a two-year kindergarten experience, which initially was available for students born between September and December. The Act also gradually changed the kindergarten entry date from December 2 to September 1, so all children would enter kindergarten at age 5 by 2014. This historic legislation meant that more than 120,000 children would have access to an additional year of high-quality early learning and, as a result, be better prepared to succeed in kindergarten and beyond.
    • In 2021, legislation was passed that requires any school district operating a kindergarten to also provide a TK program for all children who turn four years old by September 1 by the year 2025–26. TK uses a modified kindergarten curriculum that is age and developmentally appropriate and based on California's Preschool Learning Foundations and Frameworks.
    • The age at which children are eligible for TK changes from 2022–23 to 2025–26.
      • In the 2022–23 school year, children who will turn five years old between September 2 and February 2* are eligible for TK.
      • In the 2023–24 school year, children who will turn five years old between September 2 and April 2* are eligible for TK.
      • In the 2024–25 school year, children who turn five years old between September 2 and June 2* are eligible for TK.
      • In the 2025–26 school year, and in each school year thereafter, children who will turn four years old by September 1* are eligible for TK.
        *Inclusive of these dates
  9. Can parents choose to enroll their transitional kindergarten (TK) eligible child into the California State Preschool Program (CSPP) instead of transitional kindergarten (TK)? (Updated 14-June-2022)
    • Transitional kindergarten (TK), like kindergarten enrollment, is not compulsory. Parents will continue to have the choice to remain at their current program provided that they meet eligibility requirements. The 2021–22 California State Budget explicitly retained choice for parents whose children are enrolled in the California State Preschool Program (CSPP).
  10. What role does the California State Preschool Program (CSPP) have in UPK? (Updated 14-June-2022)
    • As Transitional Kindergarten (TK) will be fully funded by 2025–26 to provide access to early education for all children whose fourth birthday occurs by the first of September of the year they are enrolled, California State Preschool Programs (CSPPs) may have increased room in their contracts to expand the enrollment of three-year-old children so more children have access to two years of high-quality early education before kindergarten. Based on 2019–20 data, only 13 percent of three-year-old children eligible for CSPP were enrolled. Universal PreKindergarten (UPK) presents the opportunity to provide so many more children with early education opportunities.
      • CSPPs may also have opportunities to provide expanded learning and extended care opportunities (before-school, after-school and summer session) to children enrolled in TK and Kindergarten to address the needs of families while also providing extended learning opportunities.

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UPK Grants Funding Logistics

  1. What is the UPK Planning and Implementation Grant? (New 06-May-2022)

    California Education Code (EC) Section 8281.5, created the UPK Planning and Implementation (P&I) Grant Program, which provides a total of $200 million to support planning around access to classroom-based PreKindergarten programs. This grant is allocated in two parts:

    1. UPK P&I Grant for local educational agencies (LEAs) (school districts, charter schools, and county offices of education) based on a formula specified in EC 8281.5(c)(1)(A) and (C). The link to this funding allocation page can be found at Universal Prekindergarten Planning & Implementation Grant.
      • These funds may be used for costs associated with creating or expanding California State Preschool Programs (CSPP) or TK programs, or to establish or strengthen partnerships with other providers of prekindergarten education within the local educational agency (LEA), including Head Start programs, to ensure that high-quality prekindergarten options are available for four-year-old children. Allowable costs include, but are not necessarily limited to, planning costs, hiring and recruitment costs, staff training and professional development, classroom materials, and supplies.
      • LEAs receiving these grant funds are required to develop a plan articulating how all children in their attendance area will have access to full-day learning programs the year before kindergarten that meet the needs of parents, including through partnerships with the LEA’s expanded learning offerings, the After-School Education and Safety Program, CSPP, Head Start programs, and other community-based early learning programs. This plan must be submitted for consideration by their governing board or body at a public meeting on or before June 30, 2022. Additional reporting requirements, including expenditure data, will be outlined in the future.
    2. UPK P&I – Countywide Planning and Capacity Building funds with a minimum base grant of $15,000 for each LEA in their county that operates kindergarten programs specified in EC 8281.5(c)(1)(B). The link to this funding allocation page can be found at UPK Planning & Implementation - Countywide Planning and Capacity Grant.
      • These funds may be used for costs associated with providing countywide planning and capacity building to help LEAs in their county create or expand CSPP or TK programs, or to establish or strengthen partnerships with other providers of PreKindergarten education within the county, including Head Start programs, to ensure that high-quality options are available for four-year-old children countywide. Allowable costs include, but are not necessarily limited to, planning costs, hiring and recruitment costs, staff training and professional development, classroom materials, and supplies.
      • County offices of education (COEs) are required to develop and present a plan that describes how the COE is providing support for countywide planning and capacity building efforts for UPK planning and implementation (EC Section 8281.5). Additionally, COEs will be required to submit the required data questions outlined in the template. If a COE operates a TK and K program, it must also develop a UPK Plan and provide the CDE with required data as outlined in the LEA Planning Template. Additional requests for data, including expenditure data, will be outlined in the future.
  2. What funding is available to expand the teacher workforce? (Updated 27-May-2022)
    One notable grant is the Early Education Teacher Development Grant.
    • The 2021–22 California State Budget appropriated $100 million for the CDE to issue a competitive grant, the Early Education Teacher Development Grant, for local educational agencies (LEAs) to address two key needs: (1) increase the number of credentialed teachers meeting the TK teaching requirements, and (2) increase the competencies of teachers in the California State Preschool Program (CSPP), TK, and Kindergarten To address the competencies, it will support teachers in providing instruction in inclusive classrooms, providing culturally-responsive instruction, supporting dual language learners (DLL), enhancing social-emotional learning, implementing trauma-informed and restorative practices, and mitigating implicit biases to eliminate exclusionary discipline. For more information about Request for Applications, please visit the Early Education Teacher Development Grant web page.
    • The budget also includes funding to support the TK teacher pipeline by expanding access to existing programs, including:
  3. What is required to receive the UPK Planning and Implementation Grant funding? (New 06-May-2022)
    • The 2021–22 California State Budget provided a formula to determine funding allocations for the UPK Planning and Implementation grant. Specifically, the CDE is required to allocate two hundred million dollars ($200,000,000) in the 2021–22 fiscal year (FY) to local educational agencies (LEAs) as follows:
      • A minimum base grant to all local educational agencies that operate kindergarten programs as determined using California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System Fall 1 kindergarten enrollment from the 2020–21 certification, as follows:
        1. For LEAs with an enrollment of 1 to 23 pupils, inclusive, the minimum base grant shall be twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000).
        2. For LEAs with an enrollment of 24 to 99 pupils, inclusive, the minimum base grant shall be fifty thousand dollars ($50,000).
        3. For LEAs with an enrollment of 100 or more pupils, the minimum base grant shall be one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000).
      • A minimum base grant for each county office of education (COE) of fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000) for each local educational agency in their county that operates kindergarten programs to support countywide planning and capacity building.
      • Of the remaining funds after allocations:
        1. Sixty percent shall be available as enrollment grants. These grants shall be allocated based on the local educational agency’s proportional share of total California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System Fall 1 kindergarten enrollment for the 2019–20 FY, as applied to the total amount of program funds available for the enrollment grant. For purposes of this clause, the total statewide kindergarten enrollment shall be calculated using the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System Fall 1 kindergarten enrollment minus the transitional kindergarten program enrollment for the 2019–20 FY for each LEA.
        2. Forty percent shall be available as supplemental grants. These grants shall be allocated based on the LEAs California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System Fall 1 kindergarten enrollment minus the transitional kindergarten program enrollment for the 2019–20 FY, multiplied by the LEAs unduplicated pupil percentage, as calculated pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 42238.02 or subdivision (b) of Section 2574 certified as of the second principal apportionment. Funds for this purpose shall be distributed percent-to-total from funds available for the supplemental grant.
    • The UPK P&I Grant will be allocated through an apportionment process. EC 8281.5(c)(3)(B) requires each LEA receiving these funds to develop a plan articulating how all children in the attendance area of the LEA will have access to full-day learning programs the year before kindergarten that meet the needs of parents, including through partnerships with the LEA’s expanded learning offerings, the After-School Education and Safety Program, CSPPs, Head Start programs, and other community-based early learning and care programs. LEAs must submit this plan for consideration by their governing board or body at a public meeting on or before June 30, 2022.
    • In addition, EC 8281.5(c)(3)(A) requires each LEA receiving this apportionment to provide program data to the CDE at the CDE’s request, including, but not limited to, recipient information, and to participate in overall program evaluation. Some of this data that LEAs will be required to submit is outlined on the planning template. Additional requests for data, including expenditure data, will be outlined in the future.
  4. Does the UPK Planning Template need to be submitted to the CDE? (New 06-May-2022)
    • While the plan itself does not need to be submitted to the CDE, certain elements of the plan will be required to be submitted to the CDE. The plan needs to be submitted for consideration to the governing board or body of the local educational agency (LEA) at a public meeting on or before June 30, 2022.
    • LEAs
      1. The CDE will be collecting information on the answers to the required questions after July 30, 2022, in a survey. This will allow the CDE to learn about how LEAs are planning to implement UPK, and to identify what additional support may be needed to help LEAs as they move along the implementation process.
      2. The questions required for submission to the CDE should be answered based on what the LEA plans to implement in the 2022–23 school year. However, the CDE encourages that LEAs, when developing their UPK Plan for consideration by their local governing board, look beyond the first year of implementation and lay the foundation for the full implementation period. The CDE also encourages LEAs to look to their Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs) to identify where their LCAPs already include relevant opportunities for alignment, and to consider the results of the UPK planning and implementation efforts as it pertains to future updates to their LCAPs.
    • To help introduce LEA leaders to early education concepts, agencies, and structures. CDE has developed a Universal PreKindergarten Planning and Implementation Guidance document. This guidance is meant to support LEAs in the development of their Universal PreKindergarten (UPK) Plan for consideration by the LEAs governing board or body at a public meeting on or before June 30, 2022.
    • County Offices of Education (COEs)
  5. How much funding will my agency get for the UPK Planning and Implementation Grant? (New 06-May-2022)
    • The link to the estimated funding results are located at Funding Results: Universal Prekindergarten Planning & Implementation Grant.
    • The 2021-2022 California state budget includes a minimum base grant to all Local Education Agencies (LEAs) that operate Kindergarten programs determined using the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System Fall 1 Kindergarten enrollment from the 2020–21 certification. Per Education Code (EC) Section 8281.5 (c)(1)(A):
      1. For LEAs with an enrollment of 1 to 23 pupils, inclusive, the minimum base grant shall be twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000).
      2. For LEAs with an enrollment of 24 to 99 pupils, inclusive, the minimum base grant shall be fifty thousand dollars ($50,000).
      3. For LEAs with an enrollment of 100 or more pupils, the minimum base grant shall be one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000).
    • As provided by EC 8281.5, LEAs will receive additional funding based on the number of Kindergarten pupils they served in 2019-20, the total number of those students that were eligible for free- or reduced-price meals, English Learners, or youth in Foster Care.
    • The budget also includes a minimum base grant for each county office of education of $15,000 for each LEA in the county receiving the UPK P&I grant funding to support countywide planning and capacity building. The UPK P&I Grant funding will be allocated to your district via apportionment. The estimated funding results for the UPK Planning & Implementation – Countywide Planning and Capacity grant are located on our web page at Funding Results: Universal Prekindergarten Planning & Implementation Grant.
    • EC 8281.5 External link opens in new window or tab. outlines a specific formula for determining how much money goes to individual LEAs.
    • Non-classroom-based charter schools with kindergarten enrollment in the years specified in EC Section 8281.5 External link opens in new window or tab. are eligible for funding as long as they offer TK.
    • Please direct any questions regarding this grant to: UPKPlanningGrant@cde.ca.gov
  6. Are non-classroom-based charters eligible for UPK planning and implementation grant (P&I) funding? (New 27-May-2022)
    • Yes. Although the intent of the $200,000,000 in UPK Planning and Implementation funds is to expand access to classroom-based PreKindergarten programs, the legislation does not exclude non-classroom-based charter schools from funding. To the extent that a non-classroom- based charter does have Kindergarten enrollment that meets the statutory requirements set forth in Education Code (EC) 8281.5, they would receive UPK planning and implementation grant (P&I) funding in order to expand or start providing access to PreKindergarten programs.
    • Any non-classroom-based charter schools that receive funding for UPK P&I grants must use the money to develop a plan articulating how all children will have access to full-day learning programs the year before kindergarten that meet the needs of parents, including through partnerships with the local educational agencies (LEAs) expanded learning offerings, the After-School Education and Safety Program, California State Preschool Programs (CSPPs), Head Start programs, and other community-based early learning and care programs.
  7. Do non-classroom based charter schools need to create a plan for UPK? (New 21-July-2022)

    With the adoption of UPK, any charter schools that received the UPK Planning and Implementation grant award notification and funding must use the money to develop a plan articulating how all children will have access to full-day learning programs the year before kindergarten that meet the needs of parents, including through partnerships with the local educational agencies expanded learning offerings, the After-School Education and Safety Program, California State Preschool Programs, Head Start Programs, and other community-based early learning and care programs.

  8. Do charter schools not offering TK have to return UPK Planning & Implementation funds allocated pursuant to Education Code (EC) 8281.5? (New 21-July-2022)

    If charter schools are not offering TK and are not creating plans for Universal PreKindergarten implementation, they are required to return the UPK Planning & Implementation funding.

  9. What is the process for charter schools to return Universal PreKindergarten (UPK) Planning & Implementation funds? (New 21-July-2022)

    Charter schools must let the CDE know of their plans to return UPK Planning and Implementation funds by sending an email to the CDE at UPKPlanningGrant@cde.ca.gov and advising of this intent.

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Teacher Workforce

  1. What is the California Department of Education's (CDEs) role in supporting the workforce of early learning and care programs whose staff may be moving to teach transitional kindergarten (TK)?
    • The CDE recognizes that recruitment and retention of high-quality staff can be challenging for early learning and care programs.
    • Rate reform for the California State Preschool Program (CSPP) provides the opportunity for higher reimbursement rates and may allow some contractors to raise salaries and recruit and retain more qualified staff.
  2. What is required to become a transitional kindergarten (TK) teacher? What are the different options in terms of credentials and permits?
    • Transitional kindergarten (TK) is the first year of a two-year kindergarten experience. Therefore, the credential requirements for TK teachers are the same as those currently required of kindergarten teachers—a Multiple Subject Credential. Additionally, TK teachers must meet one of the following by August 1, 2023: (1) at least 24 units in early childhood education or child development, or both; (2) professional experience in a classroom setting with preschool-aged children that a local educational agency (LEA) deems comparable to 24 units; or (3) a Child Development Teacher Permit issued from the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC):
      • Permit options: Child Development Teacher Permit, Child Development Master Teacher Permit, Child Development Site Supervisor Permit, or the Child Development Program Director Permit
      • Please see California Education Code (EC) Section 48000(g)(4) for more information.
    • The 2021–22 California State Budget provides $20 million to relieve the burden of credentialing fees on prospective teachers and establishes a CTC-led TK credential workgroup to understand how current TK credentialing requirements are being implemented and aligned with California’s Master Plan for Early Learning and Care.
    • At their September 2021 commission meeting, the CTC discussed several new pathways to credentialing, including revising and repurposing the existing Early Childhood Education (ECE) Specialist Credential to serve the function of a Preschool through Third Grade (P-3) Alignment Initiative credential. The California Department of Education (CDE) is partnering with the CTC in its work on this critical issue.
  3. What is required to become an assistant teacher in a transitional kindergarten (TK) classroom?
    The qualifications for assistant teachers (or paraprofessionals or instructional aides) vary based the school type. The qualifications are as follows:
    • Paraprofessionals employed at non-Title I schools must do the following:
      • Have a high school diploma or the equivalent, and
      • Pass a local assessment of knowledge and skills in assisting in instruction (This is a locally approved assessment. Local educational agencies may develop their own assessment or use an existing assessment so long as it measures the knowledge and skills in assisting in instruction. Many districts use the California Basic Educational Skills Test [CBEST] for this purpose.) (California Education Code [EC] Section 45330, 20 United States Code [U.S.C.], Section 1112[c][6]). Local educational agencies may also have specific requirements for employment.
    • Title I Schools Paraprofessional Requirements:
      Title I paraprofessionals whose duties include instructional support must have:
      • High school diploma or the equivalent, and
      • Two years of college (48 units), or
      • A. A. degree (or higher), or
      • Pass a local assessment of knowledge and skills in assisting in instruction.(This is a locally approved assessment. Local educational agencies may develop their own assessment or use an existing assessment so long as it measures the knowledge and skills in assisting in instruction. Many districts use the CBEST for this purpose).  Local educational agencies may also have specific requirements for employment.
  4. Do transitional kindergarten (TK) teachers need to have a teaching credential? (Updated 19-October-2022)

    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:

    Kindergarten-Primary (grades Kindergarten (K) through grade 3)
    Elementary (grades K through 8)
    Early Childhood (preschool through 3)
    Elementary (grades K through 8)
    Multiple Subject (preschool, K through 12 and adults)
    Multiple Subject University Intern (preschool, grades K through12 and adults)
    Multiple Subject District Intern (grades K through 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.

  5. In California Education Code (EC) 48000(g), are the terms “assigned” and “taught” interchangeable? (Updated 14-June-2022)

    The term “assigned” means that a credentialed teacher is directed or hired to teach transitional kindergarten (TK). This TK teacher may or may not have taught a TK student prior to July 1, 2015. Therefore, the terms assigned and taught are not necessarily interchangeable.

  6. What specific courses must teachers take in order to meet the additional statutory requirements, specifically, the 24-unit requirement by August 1, 2023? (Updated 19-October-2022)
    • It is the intent of the Legislature to ensure transitional kindergarten (TK) teachers have the knowledge in early education and child development to effectively teach 4-year-old children. Any teacher who is assigned to teach TK on or after July 1, 2015, will have until August 1, 2023, to meet one of the requirements stated in California Education Code (EC) Section 48000(g)(4). For purposes of meeting the 24-units in early education or child development, or both, set forth in EC Section 48000(g)(4)(A), “units” means semester units, or their quarterly equivalent, as used for the purposes of a degree program at the University of California, California State University, California Community Colleges, or independent institutions of higher education, as defined in EC Section 66010. "Continuing education" units are only applicable if they are issued by an accredited institution of higher education as semester- or quarter-equivalent units. LEAs must monitor and document the completion of units.
    • Local educational agencies 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.)
  7. How should local educational agencies (LEAs) document credentialing/permitting for teachers assigned to teach Transitional Kindergarten (TK)? (Updated 26-September-2022)

    LEAs are responsible for ensuring that TK teachers meet statutory requirements. The LEA of the credentialed teacher must follow the local process for personnel record keeping and ensure the new TK teacher requirements are being met. For more information about credentials/permits, please contact the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) External link opens in new window or tab. .

  8. Can transitional kindergarten (TK) teachers “loop” (remain) with their students into kindergarten? (Updated 14-June-2022)

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

  9. What are the credential requirements for TK teachers providing independent study instruction? (Updated 21-July-2022)
    • Independent study must be provided under the general supervision of an employee of the local educational agency (LEA) who possesses a valid certification document pursuant to Education Code (EC) sections 44865, 44300, or 47605(l).
    • For traditional independent study, EC Section 51747.5(a) states: The independent study by each pupil shall be coordinated, evaluated, and, notwithstanding subdivision (a) of EC Section 46300, shall be under the general supervision of an employee of the LEA who possesses a valid certification document pursuant to EC Section 44865 or an emergency credential pursuant to EC Section 44300, registered as required by law.
    • Course-based independent study (CBIS) courses are taught under the general supervision of certificated employees who hold the appropriate subject matter credential pursuant to EC sections 44300, 44865 or 47605(l). CBIS teachers shall be employed by the LEA at which the pupil is enrolled, or by a LEA that has a Memorandum of Understanding to provide the instruction. EC Section 51749.5(a)(3)
    • As a condition of apportionment, existing law requires a credentialed teacher who is first assigned to a TK classroom after July 1, 2015, to have one of the following by August 1, 2023:
      • At least 24 units in early childhood education, childhood development, or both;
      • 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 above; or
      • A child development teacher permit issued by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
        • Permit options: Child Development Teacher Permit, Child Development Master Teacher Permit, Child Development Site Supervisor Permit, or the Child Development Program Director Permit
    • Please visit the Independent Study FAQ page for more information: Independent Study Frequently Asked Questions - Independent Study
  10. Can a teacher with a single subject credential teach TK? (Updated 14-June-2022)
    • Yes, Education Code (EC) 44263 does allow a single subject credential holder to be assigned to TK by this section or a multiple subject class if he or she holds at least 60 semester hours equally distributed among the 10 areas of a diversified major set forth in Section 44314. A three-semester-unit variance in any of the required 10 areas may be allowed.
    • However, that means that the single subject teacher would need to have 60 semester hours in the 10 areas listed in 44314 to be authorized for the assignment and then the 24 ECE and CD units to be eligible for apportionment.
    • All other requirements per EC 48000(g)(4) for a Transitional Kindergarten teacher will need to be met.
    • Please visit the CTC website for additional information regarding credentials External link opens in new window or tab. .
    • Please note the May Revision to the Governor’s January budget for the 2022–23 fiscal year includes additional proposals regarding who else may teach in a TK classroom. The CDE will update this information after the 2022–23 budget is enacted.
  11. Do substitute teachers need to meet the new Transitional Kindergarten teacher requirements? (Updated 14-June-2022)

    No, a TK substitute teacher must meet the same requirements as a Kindergarten substitute teacher.

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TK Admission Information

  1. Who is age-eligible for Transitional Kindergarten (TK)? (Updated 26-September-2022)
    • In 2022–23, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and February 2*,
    • In 2023–24, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 between September 2 and April 2*,
    • In 2024–25, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 between September 2 and June 2*,
    • In 2025–26, LEAs are required to make TK available to all children who will have their fourth birthday by September 1* of the school year.
    • *Inclusive of these dates

    However, pursuant to EC Section 48000(c)(2)(A), a school district or charter school may, at any time during a school year (including at the beginning of the school year) admit a child to a TK program who will have his or her fifth birthday after the TK eligibility cut-off dates listed above, but during that same school year, with the approval of the parent or guardian, if the governing board of the school district or the governing body of the charter school 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. Average Daily Attendance (ADA) can be claimed for these students once they attain the age of five (EC Section 48000(c)(2)(B)).

  2. Must children attend Transitional Kindergarten (TK)? (Updated 26-September-2022)

    No. Children are not required to attend TK.

  3. Is Transitional Kindergarten (TK) considered a separate grade level? (Updated 21-July-2022)

    No. TK is still officially considered in law the first year of a two-year kindergarten program. Operationally, with the expansion to include all children who are 4-years-old by September 1st by the 2025-26 school year, children in TK are enrolled in a PreKindergarten program the year before kindergarten. In addition, as described in Education Code (EC) Section 48000, pupil level data, inclusive of TK programs, shall be collected separately from kindergarten pupil data in elementary and secondary schools, including, but not limited to, juvenile court schools, alternative schools, continuation schools, special education schools, and adult educational programs offering a high school diploma or equivalency.

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

    Although this is a local decision, the California Department of Education (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. Should students who are four-years-old receive their pre-kindergarten booster vaccines?

    Yes. Under California’s kindergarten immunization requirements External link opens in new window or tab., even four-year-old children need their pre-kindergarten immunizations prior to the first day of transitional kindergarten (TK) where they could potentially be exposed to vaccine preventable diseases. The federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Academy Family Physicians recommend pre-kindergarten immunizations External link opens in new window or tab. starting as young as four years of age.

  6. What are the immunization requirements for a student enrolled in Transitional Kindergarten (TK)? (Updated 26-September-2022)

    Under California’s Kindergarten immunization requirements, children need immunizations prior to the first day of Transitional Kindergarten (TK), which is considered the first-year of a two-year Kindergarten program.

    Please visit the California Department of Public Health web page to view required immunizations for TK students.External link opens in new window or tab.

  7. Are waiting lists allowed for Transitional Kindergarten (TK) classes? (New 27-May-2022)

    All school districts are required to provide TK to age-eligible children, which for 2022–23 are all children who will have their fifth birthday according to the mandated implementation schedule as found in Education Code (EC) Section 48000(c)(1).

    • Although demographics and class size restrictions may prevent parents/guardians from enrolling their children in their neighborhood or other specific school within a school district, no age-eligible child may be denied access to TK by being placed on a waiting list. While local education officials may need a day or two to identify an available TK classroom, the district must provide the name(s) of available schools with a TK classroom. Parents or guardians may discuss school choice options with district officials.
    • Note: Children are not required to attend Kindergarten or TK, however in California, children are subject to compulsory full-time education beginning at age six (EC Section 48200). Lastly, every county office of education, district, and charter school governing board is required to have established local complaint policies that describe the procedures that must be followed to resolve complaints. Copies of complaint policies and procedures are available at the local educational agency site. Complaints about TK against a district, school, principal, teacher, or school personnel are not within the jurisdiction of the California Department of Education. Each local district governing board has ultimate authority over general education processes.

Funding and Reporting Information

  1. How does transitional kindergarten (TK) affect basic aid districts?

    Regardless if a district receives state revenues through the Local Control Funding Formula or is a basic aid district, if it offers kindergarten, then the expectation is that it also offers TK as TK is the first year of a two-year kindergarten program. Most districts are embracing TK because early learning is the most effective strategy to close the socioeconomic academic achievement gap and helps build a strong school community by connecting families to their local schools starting with 4-year-olds.

    In addition, any basic aid school districts that received funding for UPK Planning & Implementation must use the money to develop a plan articulating how all children will have access to full-day learning programs the year before kindergarten that meet the needs of parents, including through partnerships with the LEA’s expanded learning offerings, the After-School Education and Safety Program, CSPPs, Head Start programs, and other community-based early learning and care programs.

  2. How should a school report transitional kindergarten (TK) students for the kindergarten annual immunization assessment report? (Updated 19-October-2022)

    The school will report their TK students within the same line as their Kindergarten students; there will be no differentiation between TK or Kindergarten students for purposes of reporting immunization to the California Department of Public Health. More information on immunization reporting is available at the Shots Required for Transitional Kindergarten and 7th Grade (ca.gov) External link opens in new window or tab. and Immunization Reporting (ca.gov) External link opens in new window or tab. .

  3. If a transitional kindergarten (TK) student who turns five between September 2 and the TK eligibility cut-off date for the applicable school year starts school on the first day of the school year, can we only claim Average Daily Attendance (ADA) from the time the student turns five-years-old, or can we claim ADA from the first day of the school year? (Updated 26-September-2022)

    Attendance for TK students turning five between September 2 and the applicable TK eligibility cut-off date (listed below) generate ADA for the purpose of funding beginning the first day of the school year.

    • In 2022–23, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and February 2*,
    • In 2023–24, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and April 2*,
    • In 2024–25, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and June 2*,
    • In 2025–26, LEAs are required to make TK available to all children who will have their fourth birthday by September 1* of the school year.
    • *Inclusive of these dates
  4. Can we claim Average Daily Attendance (ADA) for a student who turns five after the end date of the TK eligibility cut-off date (listed below) from the first day of the school year? (Updated 26-September-2022)

    No. According to EC Section 48000(c)(2)(B), attendance for students who turn five after the TK eligibility cut-off date, but are admitted to transitional kindergarten (TK) at the discretion of the LEA on or after the first day of the school year do not generate ADA until they reach their fifth birthday. To clarify, ADA may not be retroactively claimed from the start of the school year if the child’s birthday falls after the TK eligibility cut-off date, and local educational agencies (LEAs) may only begin claiming attendance for these students once they turn five.

    • In 2022–23, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and February 2*,
    • In 2023–24, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and April 2*,
    • In 2024–25, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and June 2*,
    • In 2025–26, LEAs are required to make TK available to all children who will have their fourth birthday by September 1* of the school year.
    • *Inclusive of these dates
  5. How is Average Daily Attendance (ADA) reported for transitional kindergarten (TK)? (Updated 26-September-2022)

    ADA for students who turn five during the applicable TK eligibility window (listed below) and attend TK should be reported with all other TK/K-3 ADA through the Principal Apportionment Data Collection. Students who turn five after the applicable TK eligibility window only begin generating ADA for funding purposes once they turn five. Once they reach five years of age, ADA for these students should be reported with all other TK/K-3 ADA through the Principal Apportionment Data Collection Software.

    • In 2022–23, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and February 2*,
    • In 2023–24, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and April 2*,
    • In 2024–25, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and June 2*,
    • In 2025–26, LEAs are required to make TK available to all children who will have their fourth birthday by September 1* of the school year.
    • *Inclusive of these dates
  6. Are districts required to report transitional kindergarten (TK) information via the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS)? (Updated 20-Oct-2021)

    For students whose fifth birthdays will occur between September 2 and December 2 (inclusive) of the academic year or whose fifth birthday occurs prior to September 2 of the academic year:

    Yes. Students whose fifth birthday will occur between September 2 and December 2 (inclusive) of the academic year, or whose fifth birthday occurs prior to September 2 of the academic year, must be reported via CALPADS with a TK program record. Districts are required to obtain Statewide Student Identifiers (SSIDs) 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.
    For students whose fifth birthday occurs after December 2 and before the end of the school year (EC Section 48000(c)(2)):

    Yes. Students whose fifth birthday occurs after December 2 and before the end of the school year must be reported via CALPADS with a TK program record; however districts may not claim ADA for these students until their fifth birthdays. Additionally, even though they should be reported in CALPADS, these students will not be counted for the purposes of the Unduplicated Pupil Percentage (UPP) for the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).

    Districts are required to obtain SSIDs 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 CDE CALPADS System Documentation web page.

  7. Should a student who turns five after the applicable TK eligibility cut-off date (listed below) but is enrolled in transitional kindergarten (TK) prior to the fifth birthday be included in the active enrollment count for the purposes of calculating the average class enrollment for the K–3 Grade Span Adjustment or the Class Size Penalty Calculation under LCFF? (Updated 26-September-2022)

    Yes. If the TK student is enrolled in school and on the teacher’s roster, then the student should be included in the active enrollment count for the purposes of calculating the average class enrollment for the K-3 Grade Span Adjustment and Class Size Penalty Calculation under LCFF, even if not yet counted for ADA. (California Code of Regulations, Title 5 [5 CCR] 15498.1)

    • In 2022–23, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and February 2*,
    • In 2023–24, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and April 2*,
    • In 2024–25, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and June 2*,
    • In 2025–26, LEAs are required to make TK available to all children who will have their fourth birthday by September 1* of the school year.
    • *Inclusive of these dates
  8. How many years can a district claim apportionment for transitional kindergarten (TK ) and kindergarten?

    Pursuant to EC 46300(g)(2), 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.

  9. Can a district claim apportionment for transitional kindergarten (TK) if it does not use a modified curriculum that is age and developmentally appropriate? (Updated 22-Jan-2016)

    In order to claim apportionment for TK, local education agencies (LEAs) must use a modified curriculum that is age and developmentally appropriate (EC 48000(d)).

  10. Can the same federal funding source (Title 1, Title III, Economic Impact Aid [EIA], etc.) used for kindergarten be used for transitional kindergarten (TK) students who start school at the beginning of the school year and who turn five years of age after the applicable TK eligibility cut-off date (listed below)? (Updated 26-September-2022)

    Yes. The same funding source and compliance requirements associated with kindergarten apply to TK, including TK students for whom the school cannot collect Average Daily Attendance (ADA), as long as the activity is properly identified as a need, and referenced and evaluated in the Single Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA) and/or LEA plan.

    • In 2022–23, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and February 2*,
    • In 2023–24, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and April 2*,
    • In 2024–25, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and June 2*,
    • In 2025–26, LEAs are required to make TK available to all children who will have their fourth birthday by September 1* of the school year.
    • *Inclusive of these dates
  11. Do federal guidelines allow for free and reduced-price meals to be claimed for reimbursement for transitional kindergarten (TK) students with fifth birthdays after the applicable TK eligibility cut-off date (listed below)? (Updated 26-September-2022)

    Since students who attend school from the beginning of the school year are deemed to be enrolled students regardless of their age and whether ADA can be claimed for these students, districts may claim meals served to these students. The National School Lunch Program does not take into consideration age or ADA rules when serving students. For additional questions contact a CDE Nutrition Services Division Child and Adult Care Food Program specialist.

    • In 2022–23, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and February 2*,
    • In 2023–24, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and April 2*,
    • In 2024–25, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and June 2*,
    • In 2025–26, LEAs are required to make TK available to all children who will have their fourth birthday by September 1* of the school year.
    • *Inclusive of these dates
  12. Can local education agencies (LEAs) charge parents a fee for those students whose fifth birthday falls after the applicable Transitional Kindergarten (TK) eligibility cut-off date (listed below) but attend TK prior to turning five? (Updated 26-September-2022)

    According to 5 CCR Section 350, a pupil enrolled in a school, defined as a California public school, shall not be required to pay any fee, deposit, or other charge not specifically authorized by law. This regulation stems from Title IX of the California Constitution, which guarantees a system of free public schools.

    • In 2022–23, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and February 2*,
    • In 2023–24, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and April 2*,
    • In 2024–25, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and June 2*,
    • In 2025–26, LEAs are required to make TK available to all children who will have their fourth birthday by September 1* of the school year.
    • *Inclusive of these dates
  13. Can a district’s Afterschool Program credit attendance in the Afterschool Program for students who start school at the beginning of the year and who turn five years of age after the applicable Transitional Kindergarten (TK) eligibility cut-off date? (Updated 26-September-2022)

    Yes, a district’s Afterschool Program can credit attendance in the Afterschool Program for students who start school at the beginning of the year and who turn five years of age after the applicable TK eligibility cut-off date (listed below).

    • In 2022–23, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and February 2*,
    • In 2023–24, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and April 2*,
    • In 2024–25, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and June 2*,
    • In 2025–26, LEAs are required to make TK available to all children who will have their fourth birthday by September 1* of the school year.
    • *Inclusive of these dates
  14. Are transitional kindergarten (TK) programs included in a review when the California Department of Education (CDE) performs a Federal Program Monitoring (FPM) review of a local educational agency (LEA)? (Updated 14-June-2022)

    Transitional kindergarten (TK) will be monitored in the same way that kindergarten through twelfth grade (K-12) is monitored. If the LEA operating a TK program was identified for a FPM review, the CDE, as part of that review, would determine whether the LEA follows state TK program requirements.

  15. Can a school district partner with a non-local educational agency (LEA) to provide their Transitional Kindergarten (TK) services? (New 21-July-2022)

    No. TK is the first year of a two-year Kindergarten program and cannot be provided by a non-LEA agency as statute requires that students must be under the immediate supervision and control of a certificated employee of the school district or county office of education.

  16. Can district A enter into an interdistrict transfer agreement with district B so that district B can provide a Transitional Kindergarten (TK) program for district A’s TK-eligible children? (New 21-July-2022)

    No. Each local educational agency (LEA) must offer TK for the pupils residing in their district. Nevertheless, LEA’s may enter into interdistrict transfer agreements with each other in order to serve students who wish to be served in other districts. In interdistrict transfer agreement situations, the district serving the individual student claims the individual student’s attendance for apportionment.

  17. Can an LEA meet the TK offering requirement through a vendor? (New 21-July-2022)

    No. Education Code establishes criteria that must be met in order for attendance for apportionment to generate average daily attendance (ADA). One criteria is the supervision of students by a certificated employee of the local educational agency. Below are the requirements for attendance generation in different instructional settings.

    Classroom-Instruction (School Districts and county offices of education [COEs])
    • For attendance generated through classroom-instruction, Education Code (EC) Section 46300(a) requires that a student must be under the immediate supervision and control of a certificated employee of a school district or a county office of education.
    Classroom-Instruction (Charter Schools)
    • For attendance generated through classroom-instruction, EC Section 47612.5(e) requires that a student must be under the immediate supervision and control of a certificated employee of the charter school.
    Independent Study (School districts, COEs, and Charter Schools)
    • For attendance generated through independent study instruction, EC Section 51747.5(a) requires that the supervising teacher coordinating and evaluating the work product be a certificated employee of a school district, charter school, or county office of education.
  18. Can a school district contract or enter into an MOU with another LEA to operate its Transitional Kindergarten (TK) Program? (New 21-July-2022)

    Pursuant to Education Code (EC) Section 46300(a) a school district can contract with a county office of education to provide instruction to its students and the district can claim the average daily attendance (ADA). However, a school district cannot claim ADA by contracting with another school district or charter school.

  19. Can a preschool program generate TK funding? (New 21-July-2022)

    No. Preschool programs are not eligible to generate funding for TK programs. TK funding is based on average daily attendance (ADA) which is funded through the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).

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Transitional Kindergarten (TK) Program Information

  1. How are Transitional Kindergarten (TK) programs different than preschool or other child development programs offered by local education agencies (LEAs) for three- and four-year-old children? (Updated 27-May-2022)

    TK is part of the K-12 public school system and is the first year of a two-year kindergarten program that uses a modified kindergarten curriculum that is age and developmentally appropriate.

    Pursuant to Education Code (EC) Section 48000(f), TK programs are intended to be aligned to the California Preschool Learning Foundations developed by the California Department of Education. TK is not considered a preschool program and must be taught by an educator who holds an appropriate credential to teach TK. For a full listing of credentials that are allowed to teach TK, please visit the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

    EC Section 48000(g) requires credentialed teachers who are first assigned to a TK classroom after July 1, 2015 to have one of the following by August 1, 2023:

    • At least 24 units in early childhood education, or childhood development, or both
    • Professional experience in a classroom setting with preschool age children comparable to the 24 units of education described in bullet 1 (comparability determined by the local employing agency)
    • Child Development Teacher Permit issued by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Permit options: Child Development Teacher Permit, Child Development Master Teacher Permit, Child Development Site Supervisor Permit, or the Child Development Program Director Permit

    Any teacher who is or was assigned to teach TK, or a combination of kindergarten and TK, on or before July 1, 2015, is "grandfathered in" to teach TK without having to meet the additional unit requirement for TK teachers set forth in EC section 48000(g).

    • Preschool or other child development programs, offered by local educational agencies (LEAs) to prepare 3- and 4-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.
  2. Is a school district required to offer TK and Kindergarten programs? (Updated 27-May-2022)

    A school district or county office of education operating a kindergarten program must offer TK for age-eligible children to attend. However, not every school site in a school district is required to offer TK. No age-eligible child may be denied access to TK by being placed on a waiting list.

    The CDE strongly encourages local educational agencies (LEAs) to offer TK at all elementary school sites, with particular focus on neighborhoods where children are most in need of access to preschool education. Additionally, in high-impact neighborhoods, the CDE strongly encourages LEAs to consider pairing TK programs with access to Head Start and California State Preschool Programs (CSPP) for age- and income-eligible three- and four-year-old children to further bolster program quality, either through the LEA’s own Head Start or CSPP program or via a contract partnership with a community-based organization (CBO) that administers a Head Start or CSPP program.

  3. Do charters have to offer Transitional Kindergarten (TK)? (New 21-July-2022)

    No. Charter schools are not required to offer TK. The California Department of Education’s position was previously expressed differently.

  4. Can transitional kindergarten (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, local education agencies (LEAs) have flexibility to determine how best to meet the curricular needs of each child.

  5. What type of facility should be used for transitional kindergarten (TK)? (Updated 26-September-2022)
    • Facility requirements for TK are the same as the requirements for Kindergarten.
    • The state has established TK/K as a two year/single grade program. To that end, the classroom sizes should be comparable to each other, which allows greater flexibility as enrollment changes.
    • Facilities funding specific to the TK implementation is available. LEAs can find information about applying for the California State Preschool, Transitional, Kindergarten and Full-Day Kindergarten Facilities Grant Program Funding by contacting the Department of General Services, Office of Public School Construction External link opens in new window or tab.
      • Under this Program the same regulations cited above would apply.

    .

  6. Are transitional kindergarten (TK) students required to complete the entire two-year program?

    This is a local decision.

  7. Is a Kindergarten Continuance Form needed to continue a child from transitional kindergarten (TK) to kindergarten? (Updated 27-May-2022)

    Children who are enrolled in TK do not need a signed Kindergarten Continuance Form to continue into Kindergarten. However, if a child is age-eligible to attend Kindergarten and chooses to enroll in TK, then they will need a signed Kindergarten Continuance Form.

  8. Are the Williams requirements the same for Transitional Kindergarten (TK) and Kindergarten? (Updated 27-May-2022)

    Yes, the Williams requirements are the same for both TK and Kindergarten. For more information please visit : Williams Case - Correspondence

  9. How are the needs of English learners addressed in TK? (New 22-Jan-2016)

    Just as for English learners in kindergarten, local education agencies (LEAs) have a dual obligation to English learners in TK: first, to provide a program designed to overcome language barriers, and second to provide meaningful access to the core curriculum (Castañeda v. Pickard 648 F. 2d 989, [5th Cir. 1981]).

  10. Are parents of English learners required to fill out waivers to enroll their child in a language acquisition program?

    No. The requirement that English learners waive placement in an English classroom was repealed. (EC 310, 311.)

    For more information, visit the CDE Two-Way Immersion web page.

  11. Is transportation required for transitional kindergarten (TK) students? (New 19-October-2022)

    No. Currently, providing transportation is up to each local educational agency (LEA) per California Education Code Section 39800, and is only required for special education students, if identified as a related service in their Individualized Educational Program (IEP). For more information on transportation, please visit Transportation - Learning Support (CA Dept of Education).

  12. What are the fees for transportation to and from school for our part-day transitional kindergarten (TK) programs? (New 19-October-2022

    Providing transportation is a local decision and local educational agencies (LEAs) are legally permitted to charge fees for transportation they provide. However, LEAs are limited, pursuant to California Education Code Section 39807.5, in what they can charge. For information on what LEAs may charge parents for transportation fees, see Fees for Pupil Transportation FY 2007-08 - Categorical Programs (CA Dept of Education).

  13. What is the ratio for TK during recess and lunch? (New 27-May-2022)
    The statute requires that starting July 1, 2022, a school district or charter school shall maintain an average ratio of at least one adult (which may be the teacher) for every 12 pupils during instructional time, which for TK students at a school district includes recess if students are engaged in educational activities required of them and under the immediate control and supervision of a certificated employee (Education Code [EC] 46115). The law is silent with respect to whether the ratio must be maintained during lunch and recess that is not being counted towards instructional time.
  14. Can a charter school offer TK as part of an independent study program? (New 27-May-2022)
    Yes. However, the independent study program that the local educational agency (LEA) is providing would have to meet the requirements of independent study in order to be eligible for funding (Article 5.5 of Chapter 5 of Part 28 of the Education Code (EC), commencing with EC Section 51745).
  15. What are the adult to child ratios for Transition Kindergarten (TK) classrooms? (New 27-May-2022)

    Starting in school year 2022–23, adult-to-child ratios for TK classrooms are 1 adult to 12 children. Contingent on additional funding appropriated by the Legislature, this ratio may reduce to 1:10 starting in school year 2023–24 set forth in Education Code (EC) section 48000(g).

  16. As of 2022-23, LEAs must maintain an average of at least one adult for every 12 pupils for Transitional Kindergarten (TK) classrooms at each school site. If a second adult is necessary to meet ratio requirements, would they need to meet any particular qualifications? (New 19-October-2022)

    California Education Code (EC) Section 48000(g)(2) states that commencing with the 2022–23 school year, districts must maintain an average of at least one adult for every 12 pupils for TK classrooms. Each classroom must include a first adult who meets the requirements of EC Section 48000(g)(4). Currently, statute does not specify qualifications or credentials of the second adult; however, the second adult must be at least 18 years of age, fingerprinted, and an employee of the school district. To ensure high-quality learning environments for all TK students, districts should consider employing adults from the following options to staff TK classrooms:
    1. Credentialed Teachers
    2. Assistant Teachers/Paraprofessionals
    3. Registered apprenticeships participants
    4. Any Classified School Employee Teacher Credentialing grant participant serving in any other role in the district who prefers to transfer to serving in a TK classroom
    5. Any teacher preparation candidate from any pathway seeking clinical practice experience
    6. ROP/HERO/Future Teachers/Dual Enrollment participants seeking practicum experience
    7. Holder of any level of the child development permit or a candidate seeking practicum experience for a Child Development Permit

  17. Can an age-eligible student who is not toilet trained be enrolled into TK? (Updated 14-June-2022)

    A school district, county office of education, or charter school must offer TK and Kindergarten classes for all age-eligible children to attend. Addressing the needs of a non-toilet-trained age-eligible TK student is a local school district decision. If the child has an individualized education program (IEP), accommodations should be addressed in the IEP meeting.

  18. What is the curriculum for Transitional Kindergarten (TK)? (Updated 14-June-2022)

    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.

    • As TK expands to serve younger four-year-old children, it is imperative that programs offer developmentally informed educational opportunities by ensuring their curriculum is aligned to the PLF.
    • The 2021–22 California State Budget included funding to update the PLF to incorporate recent research in the field, including best practices to support dual language learners (DLL), reduce racial bias, and better support the inclusion of children with disabilities.
  19. What assessments are recommended in Transitional Kindergarten classrooms (TK)? (New 27-May-2022)

    In 2021–22, TK classrooms are not required to use specific assessment tools, although best practice would include utilizing assessments to understand and intentionally support children’s development of key skills like math, language, literacy, and social-emotional skills (e.g., The Desired Results Developmental Profile [DRDP]).

    • Local educational agencies (LEAs) need to ensure that developmentally informed practices, curricula, and assessments are used in these classrooms. At this time, the CDE does not have any specific recommendations for direct assessments of children’s skills; however, the CDE still encourages the use of screening and assessment tools if they are linguistically and culturally appropriate.
    • If an LEA has a CSPP and TK combo class, the LEA will be required to use the DRDP assessment to measure the development of children enrolled in CSPP, along with other program requirements as specified in Education Code (EC) Section 48000(h).
    • TK classrooms are not required to use the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) or the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS). LEAs may choose to utilize classroom observation tools like the CLASS or ECERS to support responsive interactions and relationships between TK teachers and students and to support developmentally informed instruction. However, LEAs that have CSPP and TK combo classes are required to use the ECERS.
  20. Will TK classrooms be required to use the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) and the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS)? (Updated 14-June-2022)

    Transitional kindergarten (TK) classrooms are not required to use Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) or the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS). Local educational agencies (LEAs) may choose to utilize classroom observation tools like the CLASS or ECERS to support nurturing relationships between TK teachers and students and developmentally-informed instruction; however, LEAs that place children enrolled in California State Preschool Programs (CSPPs) into a TK program classroom are required to use the ECERS.

  21. Can Transitional Kindergarten (TK) be offered as a combination (hybrid) in-person or independent study option? (Updated 21-July-2022)

    Yes. While students may participate in a TK program in which the student attends part of the day or week in-person and part of the day or week in independent study, the attendance accounting and instructional time requirements for both methods of instruction would have to be met in order to generate attendance for apportionment.

    Note that the attendance accounting and instructional time requirements are extremely nuanced and failure to meet the requirements carry severe fiscal penalties. For more information regarding the attendance accounting and instructional time requirements for TK, please contact the Attendance Accounting Office at ATTENDANCEACCOUNTING@CDE.CA.GOV.

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Instructional Minutes Information

  1. My son's school has an extended-day schedule. Since kindergarten and transitional kindergarten (TK) are not mandatory, if I pick up my child at part-day, is that all right?

    Since TK and kindergarten are currently not mandated, it is a local decision whether you are permitted to pick up your child at part-day. Assuming the local education agency (LEA) does not allow you to pick up your child part way through the extended-day schedule, your child's absence might be recorded as an unexcused absence and might be referred to the school attendance review board (SARB). A SARB meeting is recommended for any minor pupil, including a five-year-old, who is “irregular in attendance at school” pursuant to Education Code (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.

  2. Is there a specific number of instructional minutes required for Transitional Kindergarten (TK)? (Updated 21-July-2022)

    Both school districts and charter schools have to meet the annual instructional minutes requirements. The annual instructional minutes requirement for TK is 36,000 minutes per year (Education Code [EC] Sections 46207; 47612.5).

    • For school districts, the maximum school day in kindergarten is 4 hours (EC Section 46111). There are two exceptions to this statute which allow schools that have adopted an early primary program (extended-day kindergarten) (EC Section 8973), and schools in which students are participating in an Expanded Learning Opportunity Program (EC Section 46120), to exceed 4 hours. In general, the minimum length of instructional time that must be offered to constitute a school-day is 180 minutes (EC sections 46114 and 46117). Pursuant to EC Section 46208, school districts must offer 180 or more days of instruction per school-year unless a school operates on a multitrack year-round schedule, in which case it must offer at least 163 days.
      • With the exception of instances of school closures prompted by an emergency, EC Section 37202(a) requires that elementary school programs operated by a school district must be of equal length of day, and this would include any TK and kindergarten programs operated by the school district. EC Section 37202(b) provides an exception to this rule whereby a school district may operate TK and kindergarten classes, either within the district or at the same school site, for different lengths of time without a waiver if the school district is operating an Early Primary Program pursuant to EC Section 8973. For further information about Early Primary Programs please visit Kindergarten in California - Elementary.
    • Charter schools do not have a minimum number of minutes that must be offered each school-day, although they do have to offer 175 days and a total of 36,000 instructional minutes to meet the annual days and minutes requirements for TK and kindergarten pursuant to EC sections 47612(d)(3), 47612.5, and 5 CCR § 11960.
  3. Must a student admitted to transitional kindergarten (TK) at the start of the school year whose fifth birthday occurs after the applicable TK eligibility cut-off date (listed below) of that same school year be scheduled for and offered the required instructional minutes in California Education Code (EC) for TK/kindergarten? (Updated 26-September-2022)

    Yes. If the student is enrolled in a TK classroom (even if not yet counted for ADA), the student should be scheduled for a minimum of 180 minutes per school day and offered the same number of annual instructional minutes offered other TK/kindergarten students enrolled at the same school site. For more information on claiming ADA, refer to the Funding and Reporting section.

    • In 2022–23, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and February 2*,
    • In 2023–24, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and April 2*,
    • In 2024–25, children are eligible for TK if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and June 2*,
    • In 2025–26, LEAs are required to make TK available to all children who will have their fourth birthday by September 1* of the school year.
    • *Inclusive of these dates
  4. Are instructional minutes for transitional kindergarten (TK) and Kindergarten inclusive of recess? (New 26-September-2022)

    Recess may be included in the instructional time requirements provided that the students are in attendance under the immediate supervision and control of a certificated employee of the school district and engaged in educational activities required of them (EC Section 46300). Ratio requirements must be met if recess is being considered instructional time.

    • As a reminder:
      • Pursuant to EC 46117: the minimum school day for pupils in Kindergarten at schools not on a year-round schedule is 180 minutes inclusive of recesses.
      • Pursuant to EC 46111: a pupil in Kindergarten shall not be kept in school in any day more than four hours excluding recesses except for pupils in Early Primary Programs and students in Expanded Learning Opportunity-Programs intended to supplement instructional time provided by a school district pursuant to EC Section 46120.
  5. Are instructional minutes for transitional kindergarten (TK) and Kindergarten inclusive of breakfast? (New 26-September-2022)
    • Breakfast in the classroom, as long as appropriate educational activities are taking place during meal services, is permissible as instructional minutes.
    • Letter from Jack O'Connell, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, on Instructional Minutes and Breakfast In the Classroom.
  6. Are instructional minutes for transitional kindergarten (TK) and Kindergarten inclusive of lunch? (New 26-September-2022)
    “Noon intermissions” (otherwise known as lunch time) may not be counted as instructional minutes pursuant to EC 46115.
  7. If nap time is built into the daily schedule for Transitional Kindergarten (TK), does this time count as instructional minutes? (New 26-September-2022)

    No. While nap time is a healthy activity for students of this young age, it would not count towards TK instructional minutes, as 180 minutes per day are required by Education Code 46117. In order to generate and claim attendance for apportionment, pursuant to Education Code section 46300, students must be engaged in educational activities while under the immediate supervision and control of a certificated employee of the school district for 180 minutes per day. If TK and CSPP are blended to create a full-day of UPK services (6 hours or more), a nap could be scheduled at any point during the program day, however, in order to meet the requirements for apportionment, the program would need to ensure that students are engaged in educational activities while under the immediate supervision and control of a certificated employee of the school district for no less than 180 minutes of the program day. For example, if the program provides 120 TK instructional minutes, then transitions to naptime, the program must still provide an additional 60 TK instructional minutes at some point during the remainder of the day in order to claim attendance for apportionment. Alternatively, the program may provide the full 180 TK instructional minutes prior to the scheduled naptime.

  8. Are there required instructional minutes for transitional kindergarten (TK) in the areas of physical education (PE), English language arts (ELA) and math? (New 19-October-2022)

    While there are total instructional minute requirements applicable to TK, there are no required instructional minutes for TK in the areas of PE, ELA, or math.

 

 

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Related Resources

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Questions:   Universal PreKindergarten Support | UPK@cde.ca.gov
Last Reviewed: Monday, November 21, 2022