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#5 K-Power - Kindergarten Entry Age

All Children in the U.S. should be provided the opportunity to:

Attend kindergarten if they are five by September 1.

What are current policies?

Policies for kindergarten entrance age (the date by which a student must be five years old in order to attend kindergarten) are not consistent across states:[1]

  • Eight states give local education agencies (LEAs) the option to choose the date by which a child must be five years of age
  • Five states require students to be five on or before July 31 (includes states that specify five by August 1)
  • 14 states require students to be five in August
  • 22 states require students to be five in September
  • One state requires students to be five on or before October 15
  • One state requires students to be five on or before January 1

Whether or not districts must offer kindergarten also varies by state[2]:

  • 11 states plus D.C. require districts to offer full-day kindergarten
  • 34 states require districts to offer half-day kindergarten
  • Five states do not require districts to offer kindergarten, leaving the decision to school districts

 

Why does it matter?

When all states allow children who are age five by September 1st to attend kindergarten, it levels the playing field (by age) for access to kindergarten across all states. It also creates consistency for an increasingly mobile population as families will know that no matter the district or state they move to, kindergarten entrance age will be constant.

For states that do not require districts to offer kindergarten, some children miss out on an entire year of learning, particularly children whose parents cannot afford pre-kindergarten programs in lieu of a kindergarten program.  

Furthermore, as most states’ policies do not guarantee all children access to publicly funded pre-kindergarten programs, children lack guaranteed access to an enriched early learning program during the year in which they would have been enrolled in kindergarten.

 

Resources

ECS. (2013). Kindergarten entrance age. Denver, CO: Author.  Retrieved from http://ecs.force.com/mbdata/mbquestU?SID=a0i70000004J3cq&rep=Kq02&Q=Q3195

 

Kauerz, K. (March 2005). State kindergarten policies: Straddling early learning and early elementary school. Young Children on the Web. Retrieved from http://journal.naeyc.org/btj/200503/01Kauerz.pdf

 

Workman, E. (2013). Inequalities at the starting line: State kindergarten policies. Denver, CO: ECS.



[1] ECS. (2013). Kindergarten entrance age. Denver, CO: Author.  Retrieved from http://ecs.force.com/mbdata/mbquestU?SID=a0i70000004J3cq&rep=Kq02&Q=Q3195

[2] Workman, E. (2013). Inequalities at the starting line: State kindergarten policies. Denver, CO: ECS.