Kindergarten Requirements for the State of Florida
Although full-day kindergarten is not required to be offered in individual school districts per se, the state legislature has taken a strong stance on the minimum amount of instructional time offered by full-day programs, which must conform to the requirements for grades 1 to 3. Here are the top laws and requirements in place for students entering kindergarten in the state of Florida.
Kindergarten Not Mandatory
Kindergarten is not mandatory in the state of Florida. However, all school districts are required to offer at minimum a half day program.
Full-Day Kindergarten Not Required
While full-day kindergarten is not a requirement in the state of Florida, districts that do offer this type of program are required to provide the same number of instructional hours as grades 1 to 3. Thus, school must offer a minimum of 720 hours per year for full-day programs, which comes out to around 4 to 5 hours per day. According to an Education Week study published in 2015, between 80 and 89 percent of Florida’s kindergarten students were enrolled in full-day programs.
Educational Standards: Common Core
Common Core standards for English/language arts and mathematics were adopted in the state of Florida in July, 2010, with full implementation in the 2013–2014 school year.
Current Age Requirements
To be eligible to attend kindergarten under Florida state law, students must turn 5 years old on or before September 1 of that school year. The compulsory school age in Florida is age 6.
Early Entry Rules
Early entry rules and age exemptions to attend kindergarten are not specified in Florida statute.
Required Immunizations and Available Exemptions
In order to attend school in Florida, 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. However, varicella vaccine is not required if there is a history of varicella disease that’s been documented by a physician. See the list of required vaccinations here.
Florida allows for vaccination exemptions based on both medical and religious grounds. Any requests for religious exemptions from immunization requirements must be presented to the school on the Department of Health’s Religious Exemption from Immunization form (DH 681 Form). This form must have been signed by the parent or guardian affirming the written statement that a religious conflict exists.
Pre-Entrance Testing/Screening Requirements
In Florida, kindergarten assessment screenings are required within the first 30 days of each school year. This testing is based on Pre-K Standards, which have been established statewide (see below).
Maximum Teacher to Pupil Ratio
The maximum teacher to student ratio allowed in Florida kindergarten classrooms is 1 teacher to 18 students.
Pre-K State Standards
In Florida, there are Pre-K Standards in place that address literacy, approaches to learning, communication, and social and emotional development. These standards are part of a state statute that requires a coordinated, seamless education system starting in kindergarten and extending all the way through graduate school
All of these laws and requirements are reviewed in great detail on the Florida Department of Education website.