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Kindergarten Requirements for the State of Kentucky

Kindergarten Requirements for the State of Kentucky

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Kentucky has enacted several education reform efforts of late, including an earlier kindergarten eligiblility and compulsory school age date, and new screening and assessment requirements. Here are the top laws and requirements in place for students entering kindergarten in the state of Kentucky.

Kindergarten Not Mandatory

Kindergarten is not legally required in Kentucky statute. However, it is mandatory for all school districts to offer at minimum a half-day program.

Full-Day Kindergarten Not Required

Kentucky law does not require school districts to fund and operate full-day kindergarten programs.

In Kentucky, districts must offer a minimum of 185 days of kindergarten each year. According to an Education Week study published in 2015, between 80 and 89 percent of Kentucky’s kindergarten students were enrolled in full-day programs.

Educational Standards: Common Core

The Kentucky Department of Education formally adopted Common Core standards in Feburary, 2010, with full implementation in the 2011–2012 school year. Recent reform efforts have also put into place Kentucky’s Learning Goals and Academic Expectations (KERA). This encompasses 6 learning goals that include developing applicable skills that can be used in real life, the ability to apply concepts and principles for core subjects to real-life contexts, and the achievement of self-sufficiency and robust problem solving skills.

Current Age Requirements

In Kentucky, currently the cutoff for kindergarten eligibility is age 5 by October 1, but this will change to August 1 effective in the 2017–2018 school year. Likewise, the current compulsory school age is age 6 by October 1 but will change to August 1 for the 2017–2018 school year.

Early Entry Rules

Early entrance to kindergarten is not prohibited in Kentucky but rather left to local school districts. However, since districts do not receive state funding for children who do not meet the age requirements set forth by law, early enrollment options are not commonly offered.

Required Immunizations and Available Exemptions

In order to attend school in Kentucky, students must have proof of all required immunizations (or a valid exemption as discussed below). Required immunizations include DTaP, polio, MMR, hepatitis B, Hib, and varicella. See the list of required vaccinations here.

Both medical and religious exemptions are allowed in the state of Kentucky. For religious exemptions, parents or guardians must submit a written sworn statement to their objection to the immunization of their child based on religious ground.`

Pre-Entrance Testing/Screening Requirements

School districts are required to administer a screening program to new kindergarteners no earlier than 15 days prior to the start of the current academic year and no later than the 30th instructional day of the year.

Maximum Teacher to Pupil Ratio

The maximum teacher to pupil ratio in Kentucky is 1 teacher to 23 students or 1 teacher and 1 aide to 24 students.

Early Learning State Standards

Kentucky Core Academic Standards actually extend from preschool to 12th grade. In addition, the Kentucky Early Childhood Standards (KYECS) that are aligned with kindergarten standards are in place for three and four year olds in all core subjects as well as in health, physical education, and the arts.


All of these laws and requirements are reviewed in great detail on the Kentucky Department of Education website.

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