LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A new grade will be added to California elementary schools by the fall of 2012: Transitional Kindergarten. It would be the first new grade level introduced in the state since 1891.

A new law, Senate Bill 1381, requires children to be 5-years-old when entering kindergarten. The new cutoff date will be September 1, instead of December 2.

The current cutoff allows some 4-year-old to enter the K-12 system early. Prior to the bill, California had the fourth-latest cutoff date in the country.

The law also requires all California schools and districts to offer Transitional Kindergarten, or TK.

Los Angeles Unified School District has already implemented 36 pilot Transitional Kindergarten programs into schools.

“Many children can benefit from an enriched kindergarten experience. Having this transition program experience will allow students to begin their schooling with a strong skill foundation on which new learning can be built,” said Dr. Judy Elliott, Chief Academic Officer for LAUSD.

The program has already seen success in some school districts across the state.

Participation in TK is up to a child’s parent. Parents who believe their child is capable of entering kindergarten early can ask the school district for early admission.

Comments (10)
  1. m says:

    I don’t understand the purpose of Transitional Kindergarten, there isn’t enough information in the article regarding the benefits of this newly created grade. Is it likened to Pre-School?

  2. wondering says:

    It sounds to me as if it is a more advanced pre-school but I, too, wish the article had more information.

  3. Dean says:

    Lets see, we can’t afford the grades we now have and they want to add additional expense for another class. Parents need some responsibility here, both of my children could read and write and new some basic math before they started kindergarten.

  4. Whisky…Tango… Foxtrot says:

    This is nothing more than a big gift from the California Democratic Party that rules Sacramento to the teachers Union. California’s education system ranks number 46 in the country, our tax money will go to hire more incompetent Union teachers.

  5. JM says:

    A great jump in access to education for the less fortunate with limited resources in their school districts.

  6. Jasmine says:

    Free baby-sitting service for parents.
    More dues for the teacher unions.

  7. JM says:

    I guess some people don’t see the value in an early start in education for kids. Humph! Shame on them!

  8. Karen Albert says:

    Transitional kindergaraten will serve as a bridge for those students who are too young or too immature to be successful in traditional kindergarten (where the curriculum now looks like their parents’ first grade class). As an early childhood educator for 33 years I applaud the state for finally realizing that very young children need to be in developmentally appropriate programs, not pushed into an academic environment prematurely. We know that those children who are in the youngest quadrant of their class often struggle with course content, social interaction and separation issues. Our young children deserve a chance to learn in the best possible manner.

  9. Christina Sampson-Washington says:

    Thank you Karen for the explanation. I agree with everything you said. Not all children are socially and academically ready for Kindergarten just because they turn 5 before December 2nd. I was very confused and trying to figure this out because I have a 3 year old who I thought would be entering Kinder next fall, but since his birthday is October 5th it doesn’t look that way anymore.

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