The Impact of Transitional Kindergarten on English Learner Students

A new study released last week by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) reveals that English learner students who attend California’s transitional kindergarten program enter kindergarten with stronger English language, mathematics, and literacy skills than English learners who do not.

The report, Transitional Kindergarten in California: The Impact of Transitional Kindergarten on English Learner Students, is the latest from a multiyear study supported by the Heising-Simons Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and First 5 California.

Notable findings include:

  • English learner students from all language groups who attended transitional kindergarten experienced a substantial boost in their English language development, including speaking skills, listening skills, and overall language proficiency.
  • Transitional kindergarten improved mathematics skills for English learner students, giving them a nearly six-month learning advantage over students who did not attend transitional kindergarten.
  • Transitional kindergarten improved English learner students’ literacy skills, putting them ahead of their peers who did not attend transitional kindergarten.
  • No impact was observed on English learner students’ social skills or executive function at kindergarten entry. Students entering kindergarten with and without transitional kindergarten experience had similar skills in these areas.

This and past reports, including one that examines transitional kindergarten’s impact on all students and the characteristics of transitional kindergarten classrooms, can be found on the studys website.

Transitional kindergarten is an additional grade level that was introduced to California’s public schools following the Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010––a piece of legislation that changed the entry date from December 2 to September 1 so all children would enter kindergarten at age 5, and which required school districts to establish a new grade level to provide a two-year kindergarten program for all students affected by the birthdate eligibility change.

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