Transitional kindergarten, the new grade level for children whose fifth birthdays fall early in the school year, is 6 months old in February. At a statewide conference in Pasadena this week — the first large gathering since the program was implemented — teachers, administrators and advocates talked about best practices and cheered what they see as long-needed reform.
Long Beach Unified Superintendent Chris Steinhauser praised it, too, but also tempered enthusiasm with a warning to advocates not to let their guard down. He said the new initiative should not repeat the experience of California’s class size reduction program, begun in 1996 to reduce K-3 class sizes to 20 students per teacher. Because it was hastily created, no research was done at the outset to measure the impact of smaller classes on academic performance. Steinhauser said that this time teachers and districts should collect their own data to prove the program works and then talk about it to legislators often.