Our new series covers California’s Transitional Kindergarten (TK) expansion in the 2022-23 school year through interviews with districts across the state to highlight strategies they have employed to make expansion successful. This is the fourth blog in the series.
With the commencement of the school year, California shifted its requirements for Transitional Kindergarten (TK) classroom sizes and staffing. The new requirements lowered the student-adult ratio to 12:1 and average maximum classroom sizes of 24 students. Each TK classroom is also required to have at least one lead TK teacher, which means that one of the educators must have a Multiple Subject or PK-3 Specialist Credential and 24 units of Early Childhood Education or Child Development by August 2023. However, while there are requirements for the lead teacher in a TK classroom, there are no requirements for the second adult needed in TK classrooms to support achieving the lower ratio. The criteria for the second adult in the classroom has provided school districts flexibility in determining how to staff their classrooms, which has been welcomed by Local Educational Agencies (LEAs), especially as many deal with the implications of the teacher shortage experienced across the nation. Rather than hiring for a general paraprofessional or aide, some school districts have developed tailored job descriptions specific to the second adult in a TK classroom to ensure that they have guidelines to help them identify ideal candidates.
Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and Santa Clara Unified School District (SCUSD) have created job descriptions for the second adult in a TK classroom. The creation of a particular job description not only provides clarity on the types of skill sets, background, and experiences the district would like to see in an ideal candidate for this position, but also can be crafted to uplift experiences specific to Early Learning and Care. It can also build upon existing roles, such as paraeducators and instructional aides.
LAUSD developed an instructional aide position specific to TK. In addition to the traditional instructional aide job requirements, the description states that ideal candidates would have experience working for TK-aged children. Similarly, SCUSD published a job description for paraeducators specific to TK. The job description calls attention to the duties the candidate would need to support in a TK classroom such as, assisting with the completion of the Desired Results Developmental Profiles (DRDP), and included preferred experience that includes experience working with young children and/or educational units in Early Childhood Education.
Dean Tagawa, Executive Director of the Early Childhood Education Division at LAUSD, shared, “we created a job description for the second adult in the classroom because we wanted to ensure that there was clarity for the role. It provides our Human Resources department clarity on what we need to be hiring for, clarity for those interested in applying for the position, and also helps build a stronger Early Learning focus into the candidate profile.”
As districts make decisions regarding the parameters for the second adult in the TK classroom, the creation of a job position and description serves as an example of a best practice.These job descriptions can serve as models for other school districts hoping to replicate this practice in order to support and define who the second, non-credentialed adult in TK classrooms can be.