Transitional Kindergarten (TK) is part of the K-12 public school system and is the first year of a two-year kindergarten program that uses a modified kindergarten curriculum that is age and developmentally appropriate.  TK is not considered a preschool program and must be taught by an educator who holds one of the following credentials:

  • Multiple Subject Credentials (P, K-12 and adults):

                   -Full Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential

                   -University Intern

                   -District Intern

                   -General Education Limited Assignment Permit

                   -Short-Term Staff Permit

                   -Provisional Internship Permit

  • General Kindergarten-Primary (K-3)
  • General Elementary (K-8)
  • Standard Early Childhood (P-3)
  • Standard Elementary (K-9)
  • Specialist Instruction Credential in Early Childhood Education  (This is different than the Education Specialist Instruction Credential: Early Childhood Special Education)

Education Code section 48000(g) requires credentialed teachers who are first assigned to a TK classroom after July 1, 2015 to have one of the following by August 1, 2023:

  • At least 24 units in early childhood education, or childhood development, or both
  • Professional experience in a classroom setting with preschool age children comparable to the 24 units of education described in bullet 1 (comparability determined by the local employing agency)
  • Child Development Teacher Permit issued by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing

Note, any teacher who is or was assigned to teach TK, or a combination of kindergarten and TK, on or before July 1, 2015, is "grandfathered in" to teach TK without having to meet the additional unit requirement for TK teachers set forth in Education Code section 48000(g).

Note that these additional unit requirements are under the purview of the California Department of Education.  For further guidance, refer to the California Department of Education's TK FAQ webpage or contact  UPK@cde.ca.gov.

Special Education Transitional Kindergarten

Education Specialist Instruction Credentials are not listed as being able to teach TK because they cannot teach general education students.  However, these educators can teach the first year of a two-year kindergarten program  in special educaton classrooms provided that all students have a primary disability category and age range that aligns with the holder's credential authorization.  The Special Education Authorization Chart provides grade level authorizations and authorized disability categories. (Note: If kindergarten is authorized, then TK is authorized as it is the first year of a two-year kindergarten program).

Early Childhood Special Education

Currently, Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) credential authorization holders are not authorized to teach Transitional Kindergarten, as it is defined by CDE as the first year of a two-year kindergarten program.  The existing authorization for ECSE credentials allows the holder to teach special education students age birth through pre-kindergarten.  With the movement of four-year-olds into the TK space, we are addressing this through updating the Special Education Teaching Credentials. The Commission has submitted regulations that, once approved, will allow educators who earn the new ECSE credential under these new program standards to teach both special education TK and Kindergarten assignments. 

Additionally, to assist existing ECSE teachers, the Commission also approved regulations that would allow a current ECSE credential holder to upgrade to the new ECSE authorization that allows teaching TK and Kindergarten. Existing ECSE credential holders would only need to verify that they have met the new Teaching Performance Expectation (TPE) content to apply for the expanded ECSE authorization.  Completion of this content can be verified by completion of coursework, professional development, or demonstrated competence and experience.  An employer, preparation program, or SELPA can verify completion of the content.  This option will be available as of January 1, 2023, after the regulations are approved.  However, we recommend that current ECSE credential holders who wish to upgrade to the new authorization begin the process of meeting the new TPE areas now so that they can upgrade as soon as the option is available.  Details on which TPEs would need to be met can be found in Pathways for Current Education Specialist Credential Holders Interested in Earning the New Education Specialist Credential.

Preschool and Child Development

Preschool or other child development programs, designed to prepare three and four year old children for school, are not required to be taught by credentialed teachers, however they must meet the separate child development permit requirements outlined in the Child Development webpage. 

Career Technical Education (CTE) and Transitional Kindergarten

Career Technical Education credential holders are not able to serve in TK classes.  Though they are authorized to teach in all of grades 12 and below, they are limited to serving in classrooms in which the curriculum has been designated as technical, trade, or vocational.  

Updated August 09, 2022