Board of Education discusses plans for IUSD’s transitional kindergarten program

The IUSD Board of Education received an update this week on the district’s efforts to implement a transitional kindergarten program.

Set to launch next fall, the yearlong course is a required piece of the state’s Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010, which is gradually shifting the birthday cut-off for kindergarten enrollment. The idea is to ensure that future students enter kindergarten as 5-year-olds, but the change will be implemented gradually over three years.

The transitional program, though non-compulsory for families, will accommodate children impacted by the moving dates — and give younger 5-year-olds an extra year of academic readiness.

Here’s some background.

Up until this year, students who were set to turn 5 by Dec. 2 were allowed to start kindergarten. That meant children with later birthdays could begin when they were still 4 years old. But some policymakers have argued that those younger learners lacked critical social, literacy and math skills. With the new legislation, students must turn 5 on or before Nov. 1 in order to start kindergarten in the fall of 2012. The cut-off date then shifts to Oct. 1 in 2013 and Sept. 1 in 2014 — and all subsequent years.

Lauren Sipelis, director of elementary education for IUSD, and Sandy Avzaradel, assistant principal of the district’s Early Childhood Learning Center, told board members that California has left it up to school districts to establish their own transitional programs. In IUSD, a committee of educators spent more than seven months planning curriculum guidelines that combine the essential foundations of preschool with the California Common Core Standards for kindergarten.

Additional information is available on the new Transitional Kindergarten webpage. And for a PDF summary of Tuesday’s board meeting, click here.