Kindergarten Requirements for the State of Colorado
The state of Colorado views kindergarten as a child’s first introduction to formal education and a transition between home and preschool environments to formal schooling. Recently, the Colorado Department of Education has set forth a school readiness initiative to help strengthen kindergarten programs across the state, with close to 90 districts already implementing the school readiness provisions and many more set for implementation in the 2015–2016 school year. Here are the top laws and requirements in place for students entering kindergarten in the state of Colorado.
Kindergarten Not Mandatory
In Colorado, children are not required to attend kindergarten. However, according to state statute, districts must offer half-day kindergarten programs for students.
Full-Day Kindergarten Not Required
Districts are not required to offer full day kindergarten in Colorado but standards are in place for full-day programs. Half-day kindergarten programs must provide a minimum of 450 hours of instruction (around 2.5 hours per day), and full-day programs must offer 900 hours of instruction (around 5 hours per day). According to an Education Week study published in 2015, between 60 and 69 percent of Colorado’s kindergarten students were enrolled in full-day programs.
Educational Standards: Common Core Plus State Standards
Common Core standards were adopted by the Colorado State Board of Education in August, 2010, with full implementation occurring in the 2013–2014 school year. In December 2010, the Colorado Department of Education released the Colorado Academic Standards (CAS) for mathematics and reading, writing, and communications. These standards incorporated the entirety of the Common Core while maintaining unique aspects of previous state standards, which include preschool expectations.
Current Age Requirements
In Colorado, by law the kindergarten entrance age is 5 on or before October 1 of that school year. Compulsory school age in the state is set at age 6 on or before August 1.
Early Entry Rules
Colorado law allows for early access to kindergarten for “highly advanced gifted children” under age 4. According to the house bill, “highly advanced gifted child” means a child who demonstrates a profile or exceptional ability or potential compared to the same-age gifted children. Children who are eligible for this program must be evaluated and found to be exception in the following areas: aptitude/cognitive reasoning, academics, school readiness, and motivation.
Required Immunizations and Available Exemptions
In order to attend school in Colorado, 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. In addition, there are several vaccines that are recommended, including influenza and hepatitis A. See the list of required vaccinations here.
Colorado allows all three categories of immunization exemption: medical, religious, and philosophical. Exemption is obtained by submitting to the school a statement of exemption signed by the parent or guardian explaining the reason for exemption. However, in the event of an outbreak, exempted persons may be subject to exclusion from school.
Pre-Entrance Testing/Screening Requirements
In Colorado, there are no kindergarten entrance assessments specified in the statute.
Maximum Teacher to Pupil Ratio
Colorado does not specify maximum student to teacher ratios in its statute.
All of these laws and requirements are reviewed in great detail on the state of Colorado Department of Education website.