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Transitional Kindergarten and Early Learning

Universal PreKindergarten (UPK) refers to the continuum of high-quality programs, including transitional kindergarten, state preschool, Head Start, general childcare, and community-based early learning and care providers, that can be layered and wrapped to create rich early learning opportunities for all children during the year before kindergarten, regardless of income.

Transitional Kindergarten (TK) is the first of a two-year kindergarten program.  Since TK students are younger in age, these programs are designed using age-appropriate curriculum for younger children. Children who complete TK move on to kindergarten the following year. This means a child who attends TK will have two years of kindergarten experience before entering 1st grade.

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Newly passed legislation (California Assembly Bill 22) transforms TK into an universal preschool program to be available to all four-year-olds in the state by 2025 (California Legislative Information, 2021b). This will create the need for thousands of additional TK teachers. Additional credentialing requirements are effective August 2023.

A new PK-3 teaching credential is in the development stages but is not yet available. We anticipate the first programs to be offered will begin in the 2023-24 school year. 

TK teachers must possess a valid teaching credential in addition to a TK-specific certification. Currently, the following credentials authorize instruction in transitional kindergarten classrooms:

TK Teaching Credential options

  • Multiple Subject Credential
  • Elementary Certification
    • General Kindergarten-Primary (K-3)
    • General Elementary (K-8)
    • Standard Early Childhood (P-3)
    • Standard Elementary (K-9)
    • Specialist Instruction Credential in Early Childhood
  • Emergency Documents
    • Provisional Intern Permit
    • Short-Term Staff Permit
  • Short-Term Solutions
    • University Intern
    • District Intern
    • General Education Limited Assignment Permit

TK Certification

TK teachers who are first assigned to a TK classroom after July 1, 2015, must have, by Aug. 1, 2023, one of the following:

  • (A) At least 24 units in early childhood education, childhood development, or both.
  • (B) As determined by the Local Educational Agency (LEA) employing the teacher, professional experience in a classroom setting with preschool age children comparable to the 24 units of education described in subparagraph (A).
  • (C) A child development teacher permit issued by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC).

Transitional Kindergarten Teaching Requirements

Click below to learn more about the available options for those who currently hold credentials but need additional coursework to teach TK. This is also referred to above at TK Certification

Be sure to also check out the PK-3 and Transitional Kindergarten (TK) Frequently Asked Questions.

COMMUNITY COLLEGE TUITION PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM

The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) has partnered with community colleges across San Diego County to offer funding to cover costs associated with tuition, technology, books, advisement, and other resources necessary for early childhood education (ECE) workforce members to complete coursework leading to permit and/or degree attainment.

Eligibility to qualify for this program requires early learning and care workforce to be employed at a participating San Diego Quality Preschool Initiative site, or at an early learning and care program that receives state subsidies such as: 

  • California State Preschool Program (CSPP)
  • General Child Care (CCTR)
  • Alternative Payment Program (CAPP)
  • CA Migrant Ed (CMIG)
  • Family Child Care Home Education Networks (CFCC)
  • Migrant Alternative Payment Program (CMAP)
  • CalWORKs Stages 1, 2, and 3 (C1AP, C2AP, and C3AP)
  • Tribal Child Care Program 

Verification for eligibility will be completed by SDCOE, and information will be shared with the applicant's college of choice.

Additional Information

In addition to coursework offered through the San Diego Quality Preschool Initiative (SDQPI) Learn Well Professional Advancement Program mentioned above and the SDCOE Early Education P-3 program, the following have all indicated they offer applicable coursework.

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) requires evidence of basic skills and subject area competencies. One option for demonstrating these competencies is by successfully passing the California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET) and California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST). There are FREE tools available to prepare you for these exams. 

It is also possible you have met the requirements to meet these competencies based on other criteria such as specific coursework, qualifying scores on AP or SAT exams, etc. Click the yellow button to the right for California Commission on Teacher Credentialing specific details.

To see if you may already meet the competency requirement for one or more CSET exams, be sure to speak with the  SDCOE Credentials team.

Learn more about the requirements to becoming a teacher based on the credential you are interested in attaining by visiting the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) website linked to the right.

Education Career Pathway Flowcharts

Each type of educator has its own set of requirements. The steps outlined below give the basic overview of the steps you need to complete, whether you would like to be a classroom instructional aide (paraprofessional), an elementary teacher, secondary teacher, substitute teacher, or special education teacher (Education Specialist). You'll even see a description for those who are interested in a program where you can earn your bachelors and teaching credential through the same program (combined bachelors + credential). 

How to Teach in California 

Coming to California from another state or country? Check out tips or strategies to help you navigate the requirements and processes.

Be sure to also take a look at our LevelUp! event, to help you learn more about educator preparation programs at local San Diego institutions.

Wish you had more information about how to apply for jobs, prepare for job interviews, or complete your EdJoin profile? Or perhaps you just want to learn more about recruitment events, then check our recruitment events and resources!


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If you can't find your answers or need clarification, please reach out! We're happy to help.

EducatorPathways@sdcoe.net