Kindergarten Readiness

Our goal: All children are ready for success in kindergarten and have the opportunity to attend a high-quality pre-kindergarten program.

Why It Matters

In preschool, transitional kindergarten, and Expanded TK, young children not only develop core academic knowledge in pre-literacy and early math, they develop critically important learning skills, such as paying attention, managing emotions and completing tasks. That is why study after study, over a hundred in the U.S. alone, shows that quality preschool significantly benefits children’s school success. We also know that every dollar invested in high-quality early learning programs can save $7.1 These savings come in the form of fewer students being held back or getting involved in crime, and more graduating from high school and college and earning higher salaries in their careers.2

California is leading the way with transitional kindergarten. A recent report found that young children who attended TK made significant gains in academic skills and executive functioning compared to their peers who did not attend TK—amounting to as much as a five-month advantage in kindergarten. While this is a historic triumph for education in our state, there is still more work ahead to ensure kindergarten readiness for all children in California.

How We’re Falling Short

In California, more than 33,000 eligible 4 year olds from low-income families are currently not enrolled in any publicly-funded school readiness program Furthermore, more than 4 times as many 3 year olds are unserved. And there are pockets of unmet need in nearly every county throughout the state.

The quality of these programs is variable and needs to be improved overall to ensure children’s school readiness. Research shows the lifelong benefits of early childhood education can only be realized with high-quality programs. Without access to high-quality school readiness programs, low-income children, children of color and English learners enter school at a disadvantage, and those who start behind often stay behind.3 Evidence of this school readiness gap is apparent by age 4, when low-income children are already 18 months behind their more affluent peers.4

What We Can Do

We can work together to advocate for additional investments in the state budget and bills for children from birth to age 5. A new bill aims to address the unmet need for quality pre-k: AB 2660 - the Quality Early Education and Development Act of 2016, authored by long-time early childhood champion Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, sets out to establish a concrete plan and a timeline for California to provide prekindergarten to all children from low-income families, with a focus on enhancing the quality of programs.

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