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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 and TK FAQs
Funding Logisitics
TK Requirements
UPK Teacher Workforce
The Role of California State Preschool (CSPP) Providers in UPK

TK FAQs

TK Teacher Information
TK Admission Information
TK Funding and Reporting Information
TK Program Information
Instructional Minutes Information
Related Resources

UPK and TK 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. Will parents who are seeking to enroll their four-year-old child in a program have to choose transitional kindergarten (TK) in lieu of another preschool or early learning and care program?
    • No. California Education Code (EC) Section 48000(k) provides that eligibility for transitional kindergarten (TK) does not impact eligibility for another program including the California State Preschool Program (CSPP), Head Start, as well as other subsidized programs administered by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS). Thus, families whose children are eligible for TK and are also eligible for subsidized early learning and care programs will still be able to choose to send their child to those programs. Families may also continue to choose to enroll their children in private preschool programs or keep their children at home.
  3. How will suspensions and expulsions be addressed across early education environments?
    • California has made significant strides by adopting legislation limiting the circumstances for when California State Preschool Programs (CSPPs) can expel or disenroll a child due to behavior. However, there is a need for greater accountability, as well as training, support, and resources for the workforce. This includes bias prevention, mental health, positive behavioral supports, and updating early learning guidelines to expand and integrate children with a wide variety of abilities and needs in early education.
    • 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 these inequities, address bias, and promote equitable opportunity for all children.
  4. As part of Universal Prekindergarten (UPK) expansion, how are the California Preschool Learning Foundations being updated?
    • 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 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 its curriculum frameworks up through second grade, which aligns with CDE’s Preschool through Third Grade (P-3) Alignment Initiative. The P-3 Alignment Initiative seeks to elevate the importance of alignment and coherence across grades and systems and support improved coordination of policies and practices in and across early childhood education settings, through transitions to preschool, transitional kindergarten (TK) and 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.
  5. What is Universal Prekindergarten (UPK) and how is it related to Universal Transitional Kindergarten (UTK)?
    • UPK stands for Universal Prekindergarten, which, by 2025–26 will exist for all four-year-old children in California.
    • Universal transitional kindergarten (UTK) is part of UPK, but not the only part. 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. Part of UPK is also the Expanded Learning Opportunities Program (ELO-P) that helps TK-6th grade, a full-day program aligned with the needs to parents.
    • Local educational agency (LEAs) are required to plan for UPK and present this plan to their governing board or body for their consideration by June 30, 2022.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

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UPK Grants Funding Logisitics

  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?
    • The 2021–22 California State Budget appropriated $100 million for the California Department of Education (CDE) to issue a competitive grant for local educational agencies (LEAs) to increase the number of credentialed teachers meeting the transitional kindergarten (TK) teaching requirements, and increase the competencies of California State Preschool Program (CSPP), TK, and kindergarten teachers. The grant, known as the Early Education Teacher Development Grant, 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.
    • These funds will be distributed on a competitive basis through a request for applications (RFA). The CDE anticipates releasing the Early Education Teacher Development Grant RFA in early 2022, and applicants will have approximately six to eight weeks to respond to the application. The CDE will hold a webinar during that time to provide information and answer questions about the RFA application process.
    • 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.
    • 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 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 are eligible for funding as long as they offer TK.
    • Please direct any questions regarding this grant to: UPKPlanningGrant@cde.ca.gov

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TK Requirements

  1. Is there a specific number of instructional minutes required for transitional kindergarten (TK)?
    • By statute, the maximum school day in kindergarten is four hours (“part day”) (Education Code Section 46111). However, EC 8973 allows schools that have adopted an early primary program (extended-day kindergarten or “full day”) to exceed four hours. Furthermore, EC 48000 states that a TK shall not be construed as a new program or higher level of service. In general, 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).
  2. 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)?
    • 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.
  3. Will transitional kindergarten (TK) classrooms be required to use the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) and the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS)?
    • Transitional kindergarten (TK) classrooms are not required to use CLASS or 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.

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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). 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.

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The Role of California State Preschool Program (CSPP) Providers in UPK

  1. Can parents choose to enroll their transitional kindergarten (TK) eligible child into the California State Prechool Program (CSPP) instead of transitional kindergarten (TK)?
    • 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).

TK FAQs


TK Teacher Information

  1. Do transitional kindergarten (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/Senate Bill (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 credentials authorize instruction for Special Education teachers to teach transitional kindergarten (TK) students? (New 22-Jan-2016)

    The appropriate credential for serving in a TK or TK and kindergarten combination self-contained special education classroom would be the same credential authorized for an individual to serve in a kindergarten self-contained special education classroom.

    The Special Education Authorization Chart External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) provides grade level authorizations and authorized disability categories. (Note: If kindergarten is authorized, then TK is authorized as it is the first year of a two-year kindergarten program). Special education teaching credentials with specialty areas that authorize service in TK and/or TK/kindergarten self-contained special education classrooms may provide instruction to students identified with a federal disability category that falls within the specialty area of their credential. A teacher must hold a credential and appropriate specialty area authorization to serve each of the disability categories for each student in the class as set forth in an Individualized Education Program (IEP).
  1. What is the impact of Senate Bill 876 (Statutes 2014, Chapter 687) – EC 48000(g) – on transitional kindergarten (TK) requirements?

    SB 876 added additional requirements for TK teachers. Pursuant to California Education Code (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, 2023, one of the following:

    1. At least 24 units in early childhood education, or childhood development, or both.
    2. As determined by the local educational agency 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, on or 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, 2023, 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.”

  2. Scenario 1: If teachers taught transitional kindergarten (TK) two years ago and then taught kindergarten this past year and wanted to return to TK next year after July 1, 2015, would they meet the grandfathered in requirement? (New 22-Jan-2016)

    Scenario 2: If teachers taught TK in 2014–15 and then taught first grade in 2015–16 and 2016–17 would they be grandfathered in if they were reassigned in 2017–18 to teach TK? (New 22-Jan-2016)

    Both scenarios above illustrate that a current credentialed teacher who is or was assigned to teach TK, or a combination class of kindergarten and TK, on or before July 1, 2015, is “grandfathered in” to teach TK without having to meet additional requirements.

  1. In California Education Code (EC) 48000(g), are the terms “assigned” and “taught” interchangeable? (New 22-Jan-2016)

    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.

  1. 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 transitional kindergarten (TK) on or after July 1, 2015, will have until August 1, 2023, to meet the education requirements stated in California Education Code (EC) 48000(g) (see requirements in Question 3). The California Department of Education (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. A candidate must have earned a “C” grade or above in each non-remedial course to be accepted. “Non-remedial” coursework is applicable toward an associate of arts degree or higher at a regionally accredited institution of higher education primarily related to children ages five years or younger. Individuals needing additional guidance related to these requirements are encouraged to speak to their current or prospective employing school district.

    Local planning councils (LPCs), county offices of education (COEs), 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.)

  2. Who will monitor a teacher’s progress to ensure the new transitional kindergarten (TK) teacher requirements are being met? How should local educational agencies (LEAs) document and keep records for teachers assigned to teach TK after July 1, 2015? Will the California Deparment of Education (CDE) have forms employers need to fill out to certify the teachers’ qualifications?

    LEAs are responsible for ensuring that TK teachers meet statutory requirements California Education Code (EC) 44258.3. 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.

  3. Can transitional kindergarten (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.

  4. What are the credential requirements for TK teachers providing independent study instruction? (New 06-May-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)
    • 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

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TK Child Admission Information

  1. Who is age-eligible for Transitional Kindergarten (TK)
    • In 2022–23, TK students are eligible if they turn 5 years old between September 2 and February 2
    • In 2023–24, TK students are eligible if they turn 5 between September 2 and April 2
    • In 2024–25, TK students are eligible 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.
    However, pursuant to AB 167, 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 December 2 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) 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).

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Are students in transitional kindergarten (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.


Funding and Reporting Information

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

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

  2. How should a school report transitional kindergarten (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. If a transitional kindergarten (TK) student who turns five between September 2 and December 2 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? (New 22-Jan-2016)

    Attendance for TK students turning five between September 2 and December 2 generate ADA for the purpose of funding beginning the first day of the school year.

  4. Can we claim Average Daily Attendance (ADA) for a student who turns five after December 2 from the first day of the school year? (Updated 20-Oct-2021)

    No. According to EC Section 48000(c)(2)(B), attendance for students who turn five after December 2 but are admitted to transitional kindergarten (TK) the first day of the school year generate ADA for the purpose of funding once they reach their fifth birthday. To clarify, ADA may not be retroactively claimed from the start of the school year, and local educational agencies (LEAs) may only begin claiming attendance for these students once they turn five after December 2.

  5. How is Average Daily Attendance (ADA) reported for transitional kindergarten (TK)? (New 22-Jan-2016)

    ADA for students who turn five by December 2 and attend TK should be reported with all other TK/K-3 ADA through the Principal Apportionment Data Collection. Students who turn five after December 2 in the year that they attend TK begin generating ADA for funding purposes once they turn five. Once they reach five years of age, ADA for students who turn five after December 2 should be reported with all other TK/K-3 ADA through the Principal Apportionment Data Collection Software.

  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 December 2 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? (New 22-Jan-2016)

    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)

  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. Is there funding for professional learning for transitional kindergarten (TK) teachers? (Updated 22-Jan-2016)

    Yes, the 2014 Budget Act includes $10 million in funding for professional development, and $15 million for stipends for the required 24 units in early childhood education and/or child development.

  11. 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 December 2? (Updated 22-Jan-2016)

    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.

  12. Do federal guidelines allow for free and reduced-price meals to be claimed for reimbursement for transitional kindergarten (TK) students with fifth birthdays after December 2? (New 22-Jan-2016)

    Since students who attend school from the beginning of the school year are enrolled—whether they are five before or after December 2—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.

  13. Can local education agencies (LEAs) charge parents a fee for those students whose fifth birthday falls after December 2, but attend TK prior to turning five? (New 22-Jan-2016)

    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.

  14. 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 December 2? (New 22-Jan-2016)

    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 December 2.

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Program Information

  1. Will transitional kindergarten (TK) continue after 2014? (Updated 22-Jan-2016)

    Yes, pursuant to California EC 48000(c)(3)(A), "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 or charter school."

  2. What is transitional kindergarten (TK)?

    TK is the first year of a two-year kindergarten program that uses a modified kindergarten curriculum that is age and developmentally appropriate.

  3. 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?

    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 California Department of Education (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. We are being asked by a parent to enroll an age-eligible student who is not toilet trained into transitional kindergarten (TK). What is a district’s/charter school’s obligation to enroll this student and what accommodations must be made? (New 22-Jan-2016)

    Local education agencies (LEAs) must offer TK and kindergarten classes for all age-eligible children to attend. How to address 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.

  5. Do charter schools have to offer transitional kindergarten (TK)?

    Yes, if a local education agency (LEA) provides kindergarten, they must also provide TK.

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

    Local education agencies (LEAs) must offer TK and kindergarten classes for all age-eligible children to attend.

  7. 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.

  8. What type of facility should be used for transitional kindergarten (TK)? (Updated 22-Jan-2016)

    Facility requirements are the same as they are for kindergarten.

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

    This is a local decision.

  10. Is a Kindergarten Continuance Form needed to continue a child from transitional kindergarten (TK) to kindergarten? (Updated 22-Jan-2016)

    Children who are enrolled in TK do not need a signed Kindergarten Continuance Form to continue into kindergarten.

  11. What are the standards and/or the curriculum for transitional kindergarten (TK)? (Updated 22-Jan-2016)

    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.

    For guidance in creating a TK curriculum, local education agencies (LEAs) may also review the Transitional Kindergarten Implementation Guide (PDF), the California Preschool Curriculum Frameworks, and the California Academic Content Standards, including the California Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts/Literacy (PDF) and the California Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (PDF).

  12. What are the Williams requirements for students in transitional kindergarten (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."

  13. 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]).

  14. 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.

  15. What are the state guidelines/policies on homework in kindergarten and transitional kindergarten (TK)? (New 22-Jan-2016)

    Since EC 49091.19 states: "No provision of this chapter shall be construed as restricting teachers in the assignment of homework," homework policies are determined at the local level. For guidance, the Mathematics Framework states how or whether to use homework as an instructional and assessment tool.

  16. What are the regulations regarding transportation to and from school for our part-day TK programs? (New 22-Jan-2016)

    Providing transportation is a local decision. Schools may, but are not required to, charge fees for transportation to and from school as long as:

    1. The fee does not exceed the statewide average nonsubsidized cost per pupil on a publicaly-owned or operated transit system;

    2. There is a waiver provision based on financial need; and

    3. Fees are not charged to pupils with disabilities whose individualized education programs (IEPs) include transportation as a related service necessary for them to receive a free appropriate public education. (EC Section 39807.5)

    The California Supreme Court has ruled that this statutorily-authorized fee does not violate the constitutional free school guarantee because home-to-school transportation is neither an educational activity nor an essential part of school activity. Arcadia School District v. State Department of Education, 2 Cal. 4th 251, 263-264 (1992).

  17. Do non-classroom-based charter schools who offer hybrid programs need to meet the new TK student or teacher ratio or the independent study student or teacher ratio? (New 06-May-2022)
    • For the days in which the students are receiving in-person instruction, the non-classroom-based charter school would have to meet the applicable TK student-teacher ratio requirements set forth in Education Code (EC) section 48000(g).
    • For the days in which the students are receiving independent study instruction, the non-classroom-based charter school would have to calculate its independent study ratio consistent with EC section 51745.6.

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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 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. How many minutes does a transitional kindergarten (TK) program have to offer?

    By statute, the maximum school day in kindergarten is four hours (“part day”)(EC Section 46111). However, EC 8973 allows schools that have adopted an early primary program (extended-day kindergarten or “full day”) to exceed four hours. Furthermore, EC 48000 states that a TK shall not be construed as a new program or higher level service. In general, 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).

  3. Must a student admitted to transitional kindergarten (TK) at the start of the school year whose fifth birthday occurs after December 2 of that same school year be scheduled for and offered the required instructional minutes in California Education Code (EC) for TK/kindergarten? (New 22-Jan-2016)

    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.

  4. When calculating instructional minutes for the transitional kindergarten (TK) school day does recess count? Does any part of lunch count if teachers have to escort students to the cafeteria and get them settled? (Updated 20-Oct-2021)

    At the local school district's discretion, instructional minutes may be inclusive of recess as long as the students are under the immediate supervision and control of a certificated employee of the school district or county office of education and engaged in educational activities required of them (EC Section 46300(a)), pursuant to EC 46115 and 46117. “Noon intermissions” (otherwise known as lunch time) however may not be counted as instructional minutes pursuant to EC 46115.

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Related Resources

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Questions:   Universal PreKindergarten Support | UPK@cde.ca.gov
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, May 10, 2022