Transitional Kindergarten (TK) is a new public school program that allows four-year-olds to join Kindergarten classes. It was designed to catch children who do not have access to early learning options and therefore arrive at Kindergarten without the skills necessary to be successful. However, for many education professionals, this new option has raised concerns.
Educators are concerned that TK may not be a developmentally appropriate option. Very small children are being asked to keep up with Kindergarten work, ride the public school buses and use the restrooms with older children, and attend a full day with no rest time or other needed considerations for their age. Another concern is that the public schools do not have to abide by current licensing rules, which strictly define health and safety for four-year-olds as different from elementary school students.
Public schools want to use Basic Education funding to support TK, so the children must be considered Kindergarteners. Education professionals would like more consistency across the Districts for the TK programs, more communication between the early learning providers and the public schools, more understanding of the issues TK is trying to solve, and more consideration of the rules about how three and 4-year-olds are cared for at public schools.

TK is not Universal PreK. Universal PreK would allow parents to choose where they would like their children to attend preschool by funding their choice. TK limits the options to public schools only. Universal PreK for all three and four-year-olds would provide options for families to choose the developmentally appropriate setting for their children and support the wealth of community programs that already exist in Washington.