News Briefs | FYI
June 26, 2023
Analysis: California must focus on quality TK teaching
California is moving forward in the expansion of Universal Transitional Kindergarten with schools and districts focusing on the development of facilities and appropriate staffing. But the state needs to boost its focus on high-quality teaching and learning if it is to help all students meet learning goals and ensure an effective return on the state’s investment, according to a new research analysis released in May by Policy Analysis for California Education.
“High-quality pre-school instruction can make a difference for students,” says Alix Gallagher, the lead researcher of the PACE brief, in a news release. “But only high-quality preschool instruction results in persistent positive gains. California has taken important steps to address facilities and staffing but needs to shift its focus to ensure high quality, developmentally appropriate instruction for its youngest learners if it is to meet its goals for improving student learning and achievement.”
Based on 25 interviews with district leaders and national experts on early childhood education, along with a review of research and analysis of policy documents, the research brief finds that districts have focused their energy in the initial rollout of UTK on the things the state has mandated — finding classrooms that meet facilities guidelines and hiring enough appropriately credentialed teachers and paraprofessionals to meet the required staffing ratio.
The research brief acknowledges that those steps are important, but they are insufficient for ensuring the quality of teaching and learning necessary to get a good return on the state’s investment. Given the status of student achievement in California, especially in underserved communities where many students enter kindergarten already behind other peers, the researchers contend the state needs to shift toward incentivizing and supporting high levels of enrollment in Universal Transitional Kindergarten with developmentally appropriate play-based instruction aligned with K-3 learning goals. The researchers also say there is a need for improved communication with parents about program implementation and student outcomes.
The brief suggests California needs to set a vision and establish goals that incentivize high-quality Transitional Kindergarten and measure progress towards those goals in terms of student enrollment, implementation of key features, and assessment of student outcomes for pre-school through grade 3.
The brief is available at
Submit nominations for HR admin award
Do you know an outstanding human resources or personnel administrator? Nominate them for the Ray Curry Award, which recognizes human resource/personnel administrators who reflect the ideals, character, commitment and dedication to the field of human resources or personnel, as exemplified by early ACSA leader Ray Curry. Visit for selection criteria and nomination instructions. Nominations are due Sept. 1, 2023.
LEAs invited to strengthen school climate efforts
The California Center for School Climate is currently accepting applications for a range of transformative opportunities designed to foster safe and supportive learning environments. Opportunities for 2023-24 include: School Climate Collaborative, a yearlong intensive and collaborative partnership where the CCSC and partner districts collaborate in virtual coaching sessions and co-lead onsite events to strengthen districts’ school climate efforts; School Climate Data Use Peer Network, where CCSC supports district or county office of education teams to improve their school climate data use practices with capacity building, opportunities to connect with other educational leaders and individualized coaching; and Safe and Supportive Learning Environments: Essentials Cohort 4, a virtual professional learning series for select school and district teams. Teams of three to five staff members from California schools and LEAs are invited to apply. Visit to learn more. Applications are due June 30.
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