As Back-to-School Season Arrives, California Launches First New Grade Since 1891

08.20.2012 | Preschool California

For Immediate Release – August 20, 2012

For more information:

Jennifer Kern (415) 277-6975,

Diana Chun (510) 271-0075 x 303,

As Back-to-School Season Arrives, California Launches First New Grade since 1891

More Than 2,000 Transitional Kindergarten Classrooms Open Across the State

Oakland, CA – August 20, 2012 – With back-to-school season in full swing, more than 2,000 transitional kindergarten (TK) classes are opening their doors across the state, marking the historic launch of the first new grade introduced since 1891.

This fall, more than 40,000 students statewide are expected to begin transitional kindergarten, a brand-new grade serving younger students with fall birthdays. Transitional kindergarten was established by the 2010 California state law that changed the kindergarten entry date so that children enter kindergarten at age five.

“Transitional kindergarten is one of the most exciting and innovative educational reforms California has seen in decades,” said Catherine Atkin, Preschool California President. “TK will ensure that California’s youngest learners are ready to succeed, and will translate into huge payoffs for academic success.”

A map visualizing the statewide launch of more than 2,000 transitional kindergarten classrooms is available online at:

“I’m excited for my son to begin transitional kindergarten because it's tailor-made for the needs of young learners. TK emphases more creative play-based learning and shorter lessons appropriate for a younger child’s attention span,” said Sarah Altman, whose son Kadyn entered transitional kindergarten in the Van Nuys area of Los Angeles.

“I’m confident my son is prepared to succeed in kindergarten because his successful experience in TK provided him with a solid foundation and a love of learning, and got him excited about starting kindergarten. Giving students activities that are more age-appropriate gives them the confidence they need to excel in school," said Melissa Vernon, whose son Evan attended transitional kindergarten in Gilroy last year.

Preschool California recently launched to support both teachers and administrators in providing a high-quality TK experience with expert-recommended transitional kindergarten resources, tips and sample teaching strategies. 

“I’m excited for the statewide launch of this much-needed education innovation. In Sacramento, we’ve seen students who were traditionally falling behind now excelling thanks to transitional kindergarten,” said Jonathan P. Raymond, Superintendent of Sacramento City Unified School District.

“As a teacher launching my school’s my first transitional kindergarten class, I know the value of supporting our youngest learners in fostering self-control, building their fluency in English, and bolstering the academic and physical skills that will enable them to succeed in kindergarten and beyond,” said Debra Weller, a kindergarten teacher of 23 years who is teaching transitional kindergarten at Bathgate Elementary in Mission Viejo.

Previously, California allowed new kindergarten students to be five years old by December 2nd of the school year, one of just four states in the nation to do so. All school districts are required to offer transitional kindergarten this year, but children’s attendance is voluntary, as is kindergarten attendance.

Transitional kindergarten will be offered at no immediate additional cost to the state, because funding that would have been used to support young five year olds in kindergarten will be redirected to support those same children now in TK. Transitional kindergarten does not add more children to a school because the total number of children served remains the same and  existing teachers and classroom facilities will be used.


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