"New" Universal Transitional Kindergarten (UTK)
Welcome to the Imperial County Office of Education website to support the efforts, alignment, and implementation of Universal PreKindergarten (UPK) to Third Grade (P-3). This page is designed to provide local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools with the most up-to-date information pertaining to the implementation of UTK as it relates to CDE requirements.
Our goal is to provide LEAs with the most current and relevant content for the implementation of UTK and establish a network across Imperial County to support one another through the establishment of creating a new grade level.
A Brief History and UTK Rationale
In 2010 with the approval of the Kindergarten Readiness Act, Transitional Kindergarten became available for 4 year olds who turned 5 between the dates of Sept. 2 to Dec. 2. While this shift in legislation provided support for this identified group of students, it did not include public learning opportunities for our younger learners who no longer qualified for public preschool due to their age and who were not yet old enough to enroll in a Transitional Kindergarten or Kindergarten classroom.
Universal Transitional Kindergarten is scheduled to begin its’ rollout in the fall of 2022 for some Local Educational Agencies. UTK envisions equitable access and programs for 4 year olds regardless of income.
Research shows that children are more successful in school and beyond if they are given a strong foundation in the earliest years of their lives. In addition, high quality teaching and learning programs can support brain development. The state of California is on the forefront of this change dedicating billions of dollars to plan and equip our school buildings with quality teachers and facilities in order to support our youngest learners in equitable ways. Thus, providing students with learning opportunities that will support and guide them as they enter successfully into the K-12 arena.
What is P-3?
Preschool through 3rd grade (P-3) is a continuum of learning that can be supported by intentional practices at the classroom, school, and leadership levels that align curricula, assessment, and professional learning opportunities to ensure instruction builds on the knowledge and skills that children acquire as they transition across grades and settings.
Why is P-3 Important?
According to First Things First (2021), “90% of brain growth happens before kindergarten. At birth, the average baby’s brain is about a quarter of the size of the average adult brain. Incredibly, it doubles in size in the first year. It keeps growing to about 80% of adult size by age 3 and 90% — nearly full grown — by age 5.”
Transitional Kindergarten (TK): The first year of a two-year kindergarten program that uses a modified kindergarten curriculum which is developmentally- and age-appropriate. (EC 4800 (d) (e))
Universal Transitional Kindergarten (UTK): Transitional kindergarten program available to all 4-year-old children statewide at no cost to families. A year of high-quality Pre-K sets students up for success in kindergarten and beyond. Education Code (EC) 8281.5
Universal PreKindergarten (UPK): The continuum of high-quality programs, including TK, state preschool, Head Start, general childcare, and community-based early learning and care providers, that can be layered and wrapped to create rich early learning opportunities for all children during the year before kindergarten, regardless of income.
Expanded Learning / Extended Care: Child care services provided in addition to the normal school day or school year operations. It provides full-day or full-year child care to meet the needs of working families whose children are enrolled in TK or kindergarten. A full day is defined as nine or more hours. A full year includes a minimum 30 days of programming in the summer.
Preschool through 3rd Grade (P-3): A continuum of learning that can be supported by intentional practices at the classroom, school, and leadership levels that align curricula, assessment, and professional learning opportunities to ensure instruction builds on the knowledge and skills that children acquire as they transition across grades and settings.
P-3 Alignment: Both horizontal and vertical alignment and coherence across grades and systems to improve coordination of policies and practices in preschool, across transitions to TK and kindergarten, and through 3rd grade and beyond. The CDE’s P-3 alignment efforts stem from a belief that gaps in children’s opportunities and learning outcomes demand system-level reform at the state, county, district, school, and community levels to disrupt inequities, address bias, and promote equitable opportunity. Successful P-3 alignment requires cross-sector work, joint administrator and teacher professional learning opportunities, aligned instructional tools and learning environments, data-driven decision-making, engaged families, and continuity of pathways (CDE, 2021).
Timeline for Implementation
AB 130 (which modifies EC Section 48000) outlines the required average ratio of adults to children in the transitional kindergarten classroom. Each classroom must be taught by a teacher who holds a credential issued by the state Commission on Teacher Credentialing (see Ed Code 44065 and 44256 for additional information). Starting in the 2022-23 school year, the average ratio in the classroom is one adult per every 12 students. In 2023-24, the average ratio is one adult per every 10 students contingent upon an appropriation of funds for this purpose. Additionally, school districts and charter schools must maintain an average transitional kindergarten class enrollment of not more than 24 pupils per classroom for each school site.
Funding and Grants
- Facilities Grant Program (EC 17375-17375)
- Pre-Kindergarten Planning and Implementation Grant (EC 8281.5)
Student Phase-In (EC 48000)
- 5th birthday between Sept. 2 and Feb. 2
Teacher to Student Ratios (EC 48000)
Credentialing Requirements (EC 48000)
- Additional TK credentialing requirements in place by August 2023
- 5th birthday between Sept. 2 and April 2
Teacher to Student Ratios
- 1:10 (contingent on funding)
- 5th birthday between Sept. 2 and June 2
Teacher to Student Ratios
- 1:10 (contingent on funding)
- 4th birthday by Sept. 1
Transitional kindergarten (TK) is a special program designed for students who turn 5 in the fall – and are not quite old enough to enroll in traditional kindergarten. A child is eligible for TK if they have their 5th birthday between September 2 and December 2 (inclusive).
TK is designed as the first year of a two-year kindergarten program that uses a modified kindergarten curriculum that is age and developmentally appropriate. A child who completes one year in a TK program, may continue in a kindergarten program for one additional year. Each elementary or unified school district must offer TK classes for all children eligible to attend.
Parents who are interested in this opportunity for their eligible children may contact their local school or district for TK information specific to their location.
Additional TK Information and Resources
- California Department of Education (CDE) - Transitional Kindergarten webpage – Collection of resources and links (e.g., Frequently asked questions (FAQs), TK and K eligibility/admissions, early admission to TK, amendments, etc.).
- Transitional Kindergarten FAQs (CDE) – FAQs regarding California state law relating to kindergarten.
- TK California (Early Edge Organization) – Website with information and resources.
- Transitional Kindergarten Implementation Guide (CCSESA, 2015) - Resources and guidance for administrators and teachers in the areas of program design, curriculum, instruction, assessment, and family/community partnerships.
- TK Professional Resource Guide for Administrators (CCSSEA) - An annotated list of accessible online resources to support TK
- TK Parent Brochure Template – District may customize to their program specifics
- TK and the California Content Standards and Frameworks
- TK Teacher Support
- TK - Teacher Requirements (CDE FAQs): Information on the credentialing and additional requirements for TK Teachers.
- TK - Online Professional Learning Modules: CDE and the Sacramento County Office of Education have developed free Transitional Kindergarten online Professional Learning Modules to support TK teachers and administrators. Participants may also obtain continuing learning credit. The modules and courses are free; however, there is a cost for obtaining continuing education units if desired.