Jefferson kindergarten teacher Lisa Peterson says transitional kindergarten is like first grade was 15 years ago. "When they have to write their narrative piece and their opinion piece and addition and subtraction, those are all modified for their ability level."
Jefferson elementary school in Clovis is helping pilot the program.
Here's how transitional kindergarten looks there versus traditional: In traditional kindergarten, content mastery is expected. Lessons are curriculum based, and most kids move on to first grade
In transitional kindergarten, content mastery is encouraged. Lessons are based on developmental needs, and kids either continue with transitional kindergarten, or move on to first grade. "The difference is that there's a lot more hands on. There's a lot more socialization and constructive, creative play, exploration."
This transitional version was born out of a Senate Bill, The Kindergarten Readiness Act. It requires students to be at least 5 years old when they enter kindergarten. CUSD Associate Superintendent Michelle Steagall says t was designed with the understanding that students are not all the same developmentally.
"There doesn't have to be the academic pressure on them to accomplish the standards at the same rate expected in a regular kindergarten class."
If you look at students' work, it might seem like what you would expect out of a kindergarten class, but there's math, narrative writing, even opinion pieces. Transitional kindergarten goes beneath the surface, with an attention to detail that helps kids who might be more developmentally challenged than others.
It's a two year program. Some kids are ready to move on to first grade after one year. Others may not be ready. And if they're not, you shouldn't think of it as your child being held back. School officials call it the gift of an extra year.
Jefferson principal Jeff Tiftick believes kids will be better equipped as they move on. "In the long term, in the long range, looking at the big picture, less dropouts."