Providing program support for district Transitional Kindergarten programs in SW Washington
What is Transitional Kindergarten?
Transitional Kindergarten (TK) is a preschool program offered by local school districts using state education funding. These programs take place in elementary school buildings and follow the regular school schedule for daily attendance but may start later in the school year.
TK students are given access to all the aspects of the regular kindergarten school day such as access to transportation, meals, and specialists (music, PE, art, etc.). Classrooms are designed to meet the unique needs of preschool students and offer high-quality early learning programs. TK programs must meet State requirements of full-day kindergarten.
Who is the program for?
TK programs have been developed specifically for 4-year-old children and offer high-quality early learning programs to students with an unmet need that otherwise do not have access to early learning opportunities prior to kindergarten. Qualifying children must have been identified by their school district as in need of additional preparation prior to starting kindergarten the following school year by screening procedures through the student’s school district.
TK programs aim to fill a gap by serving students who do not qualify for or attend other schools or programs such as Head Start, ECEAP or licensed child care programs.
TK Program Support
Transitional Kindergarten Support Services for Districts
ESD 112 has several specialists on staff who can assist schools with Transitional Kindergarten programming, including a TK Coordinator, Pyramid Model Implementation Specialist, WaKIDS Coordinator, and a P-3 Professional Development Manager.
Our team of specialists support districts with many essential aspects of planning and implementing a TK program, including (but not limited to):
- Guiding districts through a needs assessment and helping to identify all existing licensed child care providers and preschool programs in the local community.
- Fostering relationships between districts and community early learning partners.
- Connecting districts to a network of TK leaders, practitioners, and administrators regionally and statewide.
- Supporting coordinated enrollment and recruitment efforts with community partners, families, and districts. Doing so helps to avoid the unintended consequence of other community-based programs closing due to low enrollment.
- Providing guidance and support with training, development, and implementation of best practices in early learning and developmentally appropriate practices including the 5 Pillars of Transitional Kindergarten.
- Identifying and supporting district leadership teams for inclusionary practices in the Transitional Kindergarten program.
- Identifying and creating a Regional Implementation Team for Integrated Transitional Kindergarten (includes Champions, WakIDS, and Pyramid Model (MTSS) partners).
- Providing ongoing technical assistance and coaching for assessment practices, training, family and community engagement, and program-wide support for inclusionary practices.
- Districts may also contract with the ESD for:
- coaching services such as WA Pyramid Model Program or Practitioner coaches
- trainings in a range of topics such as developmentally appropriate practices, play-based learning, and creating environments and care routines for 4-year-old students.
District TK Resources
- OSPI Transitional Kindergarten Requirements & Pillars
- OSPI Social Emotional Pathways
- Washington State Full-Day Kindergarten Guide
- Washington State Early Learning and Development Guidelines, Birth through 3rd Grade
- The Right Direction: Mixed Delivery Early Care and Education
TK Programs & Eligibility
Eligibility & Screening Process
TK programs are only for 4-year-old children who have been identified as needing additional preparation prior to starting kindergarten the following school year.
Eligible students may include 4-year olds who:
- are not currently enrolled in a preschool program
- do not qualify for early learning programs
- do not have access to high-quality early learning experiences
- may have an Individual Education Plan (IEP)
Schools offering Transitional Kindergarten (TK) programs use screening procedures to determine the individual student’s abilities and determine the need for services. With the use of screening instruments, school personnel work with children and families to administer a developmentally appropriate screening. This screening helps identify the child’s developmental progress and indicate certain developmental milestones that have been achieved. Screening should take 30 minutes or less and is conducted by the school district.
Screening Procedures may include the following components:
Coordinated Recruitment and Enrollment
TK programs will work in collaboration with other preschool providers in the community to determine the best placement option for students. Before making a decision, families should consider all early learning options for which they qualify, as well as the benefits and outcomes of each service option.
Families are their child’s first and most important teacher and all families want what’s best for their children. Schools should be prepared to welcome families to the screening process and invite them to provide critical information about family culture and language, their child’s strengths and interests, as well as areas of behavioral and academic concerns. If children do not qualify for TK, schools should have a system in place to refer families to other programs.
TK Programs of SW Washington
If you have any questions in regards to your local TK program, please contact the district directly. Each district has their own application process and screening procedures.
TK is one of multiple placement options available to students with IEPs. IEP teams in collaboration with families and other community based providers should consider all placement options to best meet the needs of the individual child.
For more information on placement options for students with IEPs, please visit OSPI’s special education page.
Districts interested in learning more about Transitional Kindergarten may contact:
Transitional Kindergarten Coordinator
Washington Pyramid Model Implementation Specialist
Looking for a TK Program?
For parents or guardians looking for more information about a transitional kindergarten program near you, contact your local school district.
Looking for Preschool?
For parents or guardians looking for more information about preschool programs near you information can be found by contacting your local school district, Child Care Aware, or ESD 112 early care and education department.
ECE State Resources
Early Care and Education in the News
Why do parents spend so much on child care, yet childhood educators earn so little?
(Child Care Aware of America, July 11, 2018)
Building a solid foundation
(Camas-Washougal Post-Record, April 11, 2019)
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