Dissertation

Teachers' perceptions of transitional kindergarten as a policy initiative

The purpose of this qualitative research study was to address the lack of research about transitional kindergarten (TK) teachers’ perceptions regarding transitional kindergarten as a policy initiative. Transitional kindergarten as a policy initiative is largely understudied; therefore this study is aimed at filling the gap in the research. This interpretive qualitative research study will help inform researchers who focus on education policy, as well as policymakers at the state and local levels that work to author educational policy and support new educational policy initiatives. Prior to 2012, in order for children to start kindergarten in California, they could be as young as four-years-and-nine-months old; California’s cutoff date was December 2 of the year in which the child would turn five. The Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010 now requires that children turn five by September 1 of the school year in order to start kindergarten. Senator Joe Simitian wrote this bill, at the suggestion of two California teachers. These teachers made their case to Simitian that the younger kindergarten students were struggling with today’s kindergarten and that this struggle continues “year after year” for these young students (Simitian, 2010). Five overarching themes emerged within this study with regard to TK: (a) lack of implementation, communication, and understanding of the purpose of TK; (b) inconsistencies among TK classes; (c) lack of standards, curriculum, instructional materials, training, and resources; (d) lack of developmentally appropriate practices; and, (e) a contrast between rhetoric and reality.

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