Kindergarten Requirements for the State of Delaware
Delaware has a strong track record in regards to kindergarten education, with mandatory kindergarten attendance and full-day kindergarten written into law. In addition, over the past couple of years, Delaware schools have begun to implementing a new tool in kindergarten classrooms called the Delaware Early Learner Survey, designed to help teachers pinpoint student weaknesses early on. The state has also actively strengthened its STARS system that evaluates preschools and given bigger incentives for programs to earn higher ratings. Here are the top laws and requirements for students entering kindergarten in the state of Delaware.
In Delaware, kindergarten attendance is mandatory.
Full-Day Kindergarten Required
All school districts in the state of Delaware are required to offer full-day kindergarten programs. The minimum requirements for a full day program stand at 1,060 hours (or around 6 hours per day). According to an Education Week study published in 2015, between 80 and 89 percent of Delaware’s kindergarten students were enrolled in full-day programs.
Educational Standards: Common Core
Common Core standards were adopted by the Delaware Board of Education in August of 2010 in English/language arts and math, with full implementation in the 2012–2013 school year. Kindergarten learning expectations and standards are aligned with elementary and secondary standards.
Current Age Requirements
For a child in the state of Delaware to be eligible for kindergarten, he or she must have turned 5 years of age on or before August 31 of that school year. The compulsory school age in Delaware is age 5.
Early Entry Rules
Early entrance to kindergarten (for children under the age of 5) is available according to Delaware statute. However, the decision for each early-entry case is left up to the local school board.
Required Immunizations and Available Exemptions
In order to attend school in Delaware, 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 required vaccinations here.
Delaware statute allows immunization exemption with approved medical and notarized religious documentation. In addition, alternative dosages or immunization schedules can be accepted with written approval by the Delaware Division of Public Health.
Pre-Entrance Testing/Screening Requirements
Delaware law recently phased in a kindergarten entrance assessment requirement beginning in 2013 with full implementation by fall of 2015 (called the Delaware Early Learner Survey). Districts are required to administer the assessment tool within 30 days of the start of school so that teachers will know close to the start of the school year what their students’ weaknesses are.
Maximum Teacher to Pupil Ratio
In Delaware, the maximum teacher to student ratio stands at 1 to 22. According to statute, an instructional aide is counted as half of a teacher.
Early Learning Foundations for School Success
Delaware has early learning standards in place that are designed to correlate with K-12 standards. These standards focus both on core subjects as well as emotional and social development, development in the creative arts, physical health and development, and approaches to learning.
All of these laws and requirements are reviewed in great detail on the state of Delaware’s Department of Education website.