Credentialing Requirements

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 Subjects Credentials (P, K-12 and adults):

                   -Preliminary and Clear Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential

                   -University Intern Credential

                   -District Intern Credential

                   -General Education Limited Assignment Permit

                   -Short-Term Staff Permit

                   -Provisional Internship Permit

  • PK-3 Early Childhood Education (ECE) Specialist Instruction Credentials (Preschool through Grade 3) *Regulation Effective 4/1/2024*:

-Preliminary and Clear PK-3 ECE Specialist Instruction Credential

-University Intern Credential

-District Intern Credential

  • 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)

Emergency Specialist Teaching Permit in Early Childhood Education

Effective July 1, 2022, California Education Code section 44300(j) provides the Commission the authority to issue one-year emergency specialist teaching permits in early childhood education. The Emergency Specialist Teaching Permit in Early Childhood Education, also referred to as the Emergency Transitional Kindergarten Permit (ETK Permit), is available at the request of a Local Educational Agency (LEA) that is unable to recruit a fully credentialed teacher to serve in a Transitional Kindergarten assignment. The ETK Permit authorizes the holder to teach all subjects in a self-contained Transitional Kindergarten class in a general education setting. Refer to Credential Information Alert 22-10 for additional information.

Emergency Transitional Kindergarten Permit (ETK Permit) FAQs

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 both the first year and second year of a two-year kindergarten program in special education 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

Holders of Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) authorizations issued prior to July 1, 2022 (Authorization Codes: R3EC and ECSE) are not authorized to teach Transitional Kindergarten, as it is defined by CDE as the first year of a two-year kindergarten program.  Those authorizations allow the holder to teach special education students age birth through pre-kindergarten.  With the movement of four-year-olds into the TK space, the Commission decided to address this by updating the Special Education Teaching Credentials. The expanded Education Specialist Instruction Credential in Early Childhood Special Education (Authorization Code: R3ER) and the expanded Early Childhood Special Education Added Authorization (Authorization Code: SEEC) authorize both special education TK and Kindergarten assignments. Refer to the Special Education Assignment Chart for more information.

Additionally, to assist existing ECSE teachers, the Commission also approved regulations that would allow a current ECSE credential holder to obtain a Bridge Authorization (Authorization Code: R3BC) 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. 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.

For more information on the expanded Education Specialist Instruction Credential Authorizations, refer to Credential Information Alert 22-06.

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.  

Apportionment Requirements

Education Code section 48000(g), under the purview of the California Department of Education (CDE), requires credentialed teachers who are first assigned to a TK classroom after July 1, 2015 to have one of the following by August 1, 2025:

  • 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, may teach TK without having to meet the additional unit requirement for TK teachers set forth in Education Code section 48000(g).

As these additional unit requirements are under the purview of the CDE, for further guidance, refer to the CDE's TK FAQ webpage or contact

Updated March 29, 2024