School in Utah is very different than school in California. Maybe it's the reading and math material they use, I don't know.
In Calfornia, with the Open Court reading program, the students are tested each week on the story they've been reading to check their comprehension. This district uses Houghton Mifflin, and they don't have tests. They're also testing out a new math program that is simply weird. It requires a lot of blocks and cubes, manipulatives like that, which are great...unless you're a substitute and the teacher didn't leave those for you to use. Then the math simply turns into an hour of blank faces looking back at you because they don't have any idea what you're trying to teach them!!
I've spent this week in the Kindergarten class that I'm going to be long term subbing for once the teacher goes into labor and I've discovered quite a few differences between Kindergarten in California and Kindergarten in Utah.
In California, Kindergarten is A LOT more structured. From the first day of school, numbers, shapes, patterns (AB, ABB, AAB, and ABC), months of the year, days of the week, writing their names and letters, sight words, reading, and basic math such as adding single digit numbers are drilled into their brains. To "pass" Kindergarten and not be retained, the student has to be able to show the teacher they can do these things at the end of the year.
In Utah, Kindergarten feels a little more like preschool. Patterns aren't drilled into their heads, (they do them in the morning during calendar time) they only have to know the numbers to 20, and so far I haven't seen a lot of math. They also don't have to know the same amount of letter sounds as the kids in California. Utah Kindergarteners don't have to know the short sounds that each vowel make....California kids do.
I'm trying to decide if California tries to teach too much to their Kindergarteners in one year, and if the Utah way is better. It will be interesting to see how this theory plays out while I'm in their classroom each day.