Transitional Kindergarten (TK)

Is Universal Transitional Kindergarten free or fee-based?

Universal Transitional Kindergarten (UTK) will be offered at all San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) Elementary and K-8 schools with the exception of Language Academy, Logan Memorial Education Campus, Mt Everest and Virtual Academy. Students must be 4 years old by September 1 to be eligible for UTK. 

What is Transitional Kindergarten?

Universal Transitional Kindergarten (UTK), previously Transitional Kindergarten, is the first phase of a two-year Kindergarten program that uses age-appropriate curricula aligned to the Common Core State Standards. UTK acts as a bridge between preschool and Kindergarten and is designed to provide our youngest learners with the pivotal skills and experiences needed for success in Kindergarten.

What are the benefits of Transitional Kindergarten?

UTK offers an additional year of school to our younger students. It provides opportunities to learn in an academically challenging and enriching environment. Children who attend UTK are more likely to acquire the academic skills, confidence and maturity they need to succeed in school.

What does the research say about Transitional Kindergarten?

Research is clear that high-quality education for young learners is vitally important in assuring school success and plays a key role in closing the present achievement gap among groups of students. According to a study conducted by the RAND Corporation in 2007, the readiness gap mirrors the achievement gap of students in the primary grades. The RAND report demonstrates "that there are sizable gaps in the extent to which children in California enter school ready to learn, gaps that persist when student performance is measured in Kindergarten through the third grade (Cannon & Karoly, 2007, p. 59).

Data synthesized by long-term preschool studies found that children who participated in high-quality early childhood programs tended to have higher scores on math and reading achievement tests, greater language abilities, and fewer grade retentions. These data show that there was less need for special education intervention, remedial support, and there were lower dropout rates (Lynch, 2005).

Entering Kindergarten at an older age is an important early predictor for student success. Some studies indicate that students who are older when they enter Kindergarten demonstrate a significant boost in academic achievement, self-confidence, and healthful attitudes about school and learning (RAND, 2007)

Is UTK mandatory?

While schools must offer the Universal Transitional Kindergarten program for all children eligible to attend, student enrollment is voluntary though strongly encouraged.

How is UTK different from preschool?

The standards, curricula and teacher credentialing requirements in UTK are different than those in preschool. Universal Transitional Kindergarten is aligned to the Common Core State Standards, is an academic program, and is taught by fully credentialed teachers. Transitional Kindergarten builds on the skills children may have learned in preschool and serves as the first of a two-year Kindergarten program.

How is UTK different from Kindergarten?

The curricula in Transitional Kindergarten is modified to meet the needs of younger students. Transitional Kindergarten includes an emphasis on oral language development, literacy immersion, number sense, and it provides collaborative experiences that promote cooperation, self-confidence, self-regulation and healthy attitudes about school and learning.

Are there academic standards for UTK?

The Common Core State Standards provide end-of-year standards for Kindergarten. San Diego Unified has used the Common Core Standards to design end-of-year expectations for Transitional Kindergarten that are appropriately modified to reflect the first of a two-year Kindergarten program.

Are the attendance requirements in UTK the same as in grades K - 5?

Yes, regular attendance is required at all grade levels.

Do students in a UTK program receive a report card?

Transitional Kindergarten students receive a report card three times a year.

Can students be retained in UTK?

Students will not be retained in Transitional Kindergarten.

What is the class size of a UTK classroom?

Transitional Kindergarten mirrors the class size of a Kindergarten classroom but there will be two certificated teachers in each class to attend to the needs of these young students.

Do we offer Transitional Kindergarten at all of our elementary schools?

California law mandates universal access to UTK for all age-eligible students - meaning that each district is required to provide UTK to all eligible students, just as we currently offer Kindergarten or any other grade to students. Universal Transitional Kindergarten is an important component of a Quality Neighborhood School in which our youngest students are beginning their educational journey. There is value and benefit to students and families, therefore, in providing UTK at every elementary school in hopes that: (a) This assures a more cohesive school experience for our youngest students and their families, (b) students and families can invest in their neighborhood school or school of choice from day one. The popularity of the program does provide some challenges when placing students at their neighborhood school. Priority registration is given to students based on their age, location, and siblings already enrolled. If there is no space available for your student, the district works to offer spots at nearby schools.

Will TUTK provide support for children who are learning English as an additional language?

Yes, English Learners in Transitional Kindergarten have access to appropriate supports and services.

Are there childcare/extended day opportunities for children attending UTK?

Students may apply for the YMCA Character Builders Afterschool Program.

How do I enroll my child in a UTK program?

Enrollment for the 2022-23 school year is closed. 

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