The Effects of Transitional Kindergarten on California’s Students

Students who attend California’s transitional kindergarten (TK) program enter kindergarten with stronger math and literacy skills than students who did not attend TK, according to a new study released today by grantee American Institutes for Research (AIR).

The Impact of Transitional Kindergarten on California Students: Final Report from the Study of California’s Transitional Kindergarten Program is AIR’s final report from a multiyear study supported by the Heising-Simons Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and First 5 California.

Other notable findings of the study include:

  • TK gives students an advantage at kindergarten entry on a range of literacy and mathematics skills, including letter and word identification, phonological awareness, expressive vocabulary, problem solving, and knowledge of mathematical symbols and concepts. Students who attended TK were also rated as more engaged by their teachers, compared to their peers.
  • While TK is effective for all groups of students, it showed a particularly strong impact on language skills for English learners (students for whom English is not their home language) and on math skills for low-income students.
  • There was little variation in the impact of TK by classroom or instructional characteristics. These findings suggest TK’s positive impact for students may be driven by the unique features TK programs have in common: credentialed teachers with bachelor’s degrees, close alignment with kindergarten, and inclusion of students from all income-levels.

To access the full report, please click here. Past reports, including one that examines TK’s impact on English learner students, can be found on the study’s website.

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