What expanded access to transitional kindergarten means for Valley districts

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Schools across California are preparing to add hundreds of young students to their universal transitional kindergarten or TK classes this Fall.

Janet Samuelian is Clovis Unified's Administrator for Curriculum and Instruction.

She explains state legislation requires public schools to make TK available for all 4-year-olds by the 2025-26 school year, which means thousands more kids will begin attending school at a younger age.

"The intent is really to provide quality education to early education for younger students because studies have shown that if students attend school earlier, they have a deeper, richer, stronger foundation before they enter kindergarten," Samuelian said.

Right now, TK is available to children who turn five between September 2 and Dec 2, which is about 400 students in Clovis Unified.

Beginning this fall, the age cutoff date will extend to February 2.

Samuelian says TK will be a lot like Kindergarten - with half-day classes.

The program aims to help students with soft skills such as sharing, problem-solving and communicating with their peers.

Transitional kindergarten will remain optional for parents.

"Parents can choose to enroll in TK or they can choose to enroll in their current preschool or a Clovis Unified preschool program," Samuelian said.

The state mandates that the schools have no more than 24 students in a TK classroom accompanied by at least two teachers.

So, with more students, districts will need more teachers at a time when there's already a national teacher shortage.

Clovis Unified officials say they are now recruiting for early education teachers.

"We are definitely going to be needing more teachers, so college students consider getting into education - get your teacher credential because we will be hiring," Samuelian said.
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