Kindergarten Requirements for the State of Arkansas
The state of Arkansas places a strong emphasis on early childhood education, with mandatory kindergarten attendance laws in place and a full-day program requirement on the books. In addition, the Arkansas School Readiness Committee has identified 38 indicators that will help get a child off to a good start in the kindergarten classroom, so that parents and guardians have a place to begin in preparing their children for their school career. Here are the top laws and requirements for students entering kindergarten in the state of Arkansas.
Children in the state of Arkansas are required by law to attend kindergarten. Thus, school districts are required to offer kindergarten programs to their students.
Full-Day Kindergarten Required
School districts in Arkansas are required by state statute to fund full-day kindergarten for all eligible students. Minimum required days/hours for kindergarten are 6 hours per day and around 1,080 hours per year. According to an Education Week study published in 2015, between 80 and 89 percent of Arkansas’s kindergarten students were enrolled in full-day programs.
Educational Standards: Common Core
Common Core standards were adopted by the state of Arkansas in July, 2010, with full implementation in the 2013–2014 school year. Arkansas began phasing in the Common Core State Standards with grades K–2 in 2011–2012 in the areas of English language arts/literacy and mathematics.
Current Age Requirements
Students are able to enroll in kindergarten in Arkansas if they have turned 5 on or before August 1 of that same school year. The compulsory school age in Arkansas is 5.
Early Entry Rules
State policy in Arkansas does not permit early entrance to kindergarten except if the student had previously been enrolled in a kindergarten program in another state or country for at least 60 days and will turn 5 at some time during the school year.
Required Immunizations and Available Exemptions
In order to attend school in Arkansas, students must have proof of all required immunizations (or a valid exemption as discussed below). Required immunizations include DTaP, polio, MMR, hepatitis B, and varicella. See the list of require vaccinations here.
In Arkansas, immunization requirements do not apply if the parents or guardians of a child object on religious, philosophical, or medical grounds. Exemptions are only granted by the state Department of Health, and individuals must complete an application, provide a notarized statement explaining why the exemption is being requested, and sign an informed consent form provided by the Department of Health. In addition, all individuals requesting an exemption must complete an educational component that details the risks and benefits of vaccinations.
Pre-Entrance Testing/Screening Requirements
In Arkansas, a screening test upon entry into kindergarten (developed by the State Board of Education) is required (called the Qualls Early Learning Inventory). In addition, any 6 year old who has not completed kindergarten must be evaluated to determine whether that child should be placed in kindergarten or first grade.
Maximum Teacher to Pupil Ratio
In Arkansas, the maximum teacher to student ratio is 1:20 or 1:22 if there is an instructional aide present in the classroom.
Early Childhood State Standards
Arkansas has made early education a priority by establishing early childhood state standards in several areas, including language, cognitive/intellectual learning, social/emotional developmental learning, creative/aesthetic developmental learning, and physical development.
All of these laws and requirements are reviewed in great detail on the state of Arkansas’ Department of Education website.