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Blog | | TKCalifornia, LAUSD

TK Expansion in Action: Developing a Local Equivalency Option for Early Childhood Education and Childhood Unit Requirements for Teaching TK

Our TK Expansion in Action blog 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 sixth blog in the series.

This year, many districts are focused on ensuring that their credentialed teachers have the Early Learning requirements to teach in Transitional Kindergarten (TK) ahead of August 1st,  the deadline when credentialed teachers who were first assigned to a TK classroom after July 1, 2015 must have one of the following requirements:

  • At least 24 units in early childhood education (ECE), or childhood development (CD), or both.
  • Experience comparable to 24 units of ECE/CD as determined by the local governing board of the employing Local Educational Agency (LEA), also commonly referred to as local equivalency.
  • A child development teacher permit, or an early childhood education specialist credential, issued by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing. 

Districts who have teachers leading TK classrooms that don’t meet this requirement by the deadline will face penalties to their apportionment. Many Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) from across the state are using the option of establishing a local equivalency to the 24 units of ECE/CD to ensure that their teachers meet the requirements to teach TK by the deadline. However, determining a local equivalency has been challenging for some districts, as several have expressed that they are unsure of how to quantify experience that would be equivalent to the 24 units of ECE/CD. 

To create a definitive structure for determining equivalency, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) developed an Early Childhood Micro-Credential. The Early Childhood Micro-Credential was approved by the school board as the comparable local equivalency option for TK teachers who do not have 24 units ECE/CD. LAUSD credentialed teachers who complete this Micro-Credential therefore meet the apportionment requirements for being the lead teacher in a TK classroom. As Dean Tagawa, Executive Director for the Early Childhood Education Division at LAUSD, shared, “We developed this micro-credential to provide our teachers with an onramp for meeting the TK teacher requirements in a way that was developed around their schedules and needs. It ensures that the educators of our youngest learners have the key competencies needed to be successful in providing a developmentally appropriate educational environment, and provides the structure and clarity our district needed to establish a local equivalency option for teachers who were lacking the 24 units of ECE/CD.”

LAUSD’s Early Childhood Micro-Credential prepares educators of children, ages 2-8 years, to effectively teach and support Early Learning. The ultimate goal of the Early Childhood Micro-Credentialing process is to ensure that teachers become accomplished Early Learning educators, able to enact positive change in their classroom and school and improve achievement for students in LAUSD. 

The Micro-Credential program takes place over the course of one school year in the form of a community of practice, where participants take 105 hours of coursework that is blended and personalized. The 105 hours of coursework consists of three courses of two modules each. All courses are offered in a hybrid format with 30 hours of face-to-face, instructor-led training; 45 hours of self-paced, high-quality eLearning content training online; and 30 hours of homework and fieldwork. Throughout the process, educators produce five Evidence of Learning Artifacts (EOLAs) to demonstrate mastery and application of their learning in their setting. Additionally, educators complete a Capstone that requires them to document the enactment of one EOLA in their setting, reflect on their work, and identify next steps and resources for their future growth. 

Teachers who complete the micro-credential program may also receive 3 Salary Points, which is a unit of measurement used by LAUSD to determine placement and advancement on the salary table. There is also no cost to educators participating in this program, and all books and other materials are provided free of charge.

“We hope other districts from across the state find this micro-credential structure helpful and can potentially use it to model similar programs in their own districts to help their teachers meet the TK teaching requirements,” continued Tagawa. To learn more about LAUSD’s Early Childhood Micro-Credential Program and other micro-credential programs, click here.

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