Children who attended transitional kindergarten performed better on language, literacy and math skills when they started kindergarten, compared to their peers who weren’t in the program, according to a new report.

The American Institutes for Research on Tuesday released its first report that examines the impact of California’s transitional kindergarten program, which was created through the California Kindergarten Readiness Act in 2010.

Transitional kindergarten is a unique, state-funded program that allows children to get an extra year of schooling before kindergarten if their 5th birthdays fall between Sept. 2 and Dec. 2. “This study finds that transitional kindergarten does appear to provide students with an advantage in terms of their kindergarten readiness,” said Heather Quick, one of the study’s authors and the principal investigator.

When they started kindergarten, children who attended transitional kindergarten were academically as much as five months ahead of their peers, who were a similar age, the report shows. Researchers found that transitional kindergarten students had higher literacy skills, such as identifying letters and sounds, and more advanced math skills, such as counting objects and completing word problems, than those who did not go to transitional kindergarten.

“Children in transitional kindergarten are getting a significant boost in kindergarten readiness,” Deborah Kong, president of Early Edge California, said in a statement. “AIR’s research confirms that California made a smart investment in TK. Now with new clarity in law about funding for expanded TK, districts are encouraged to offer an additional option to young learners and their families to build a strong foundation for success in school.”

Read the full article about transitional kindergarten by Sarah Tully at EdSource.