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Kindergarten Requirements for the State of Maryland

Kindergarten Requirements for the State of Maryland

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Maryland requires by law the availability of universal, free full-day kindergarten to all of its 5 year old residents. Additionally, Maryland has worked to strengthen even further its early childhood education program by implementing a state-wide assessment test that tracks kindergartener development upon entry to kindergarten and throughout this important school year. Here are the top laws and requirements in place for students entering kindergarten in the state of Maryland.

Kindergarten Mandatory

In Maryland, children are required by law to attend kindergarten. Parents can opt out children with the approved submission of a waiver that shows that the child lacks the maturity to attend kindergarten or is enrolled in a 5-year-old program with Head Start or at a childcare center. In addition, all school districts are mandated to offer their students full-day programs.

Full-Day Kindergarten Required

Maryland school districts are required by law to fund universal full-day kindergarten programs for all eligible students. Minimum required days/hours for kindergarten by Maryland statute are 180 days or 1,080 hours per year (which translates to around 6 hours per day), and the program must support the academic, social, physical, and emotional development of kindergarteners. According to an Education Week study published in 2015, between 80 and 89 percent of Maryland’s kindergarten students were enrolled in full-day programs.

Educational Standards: Common Core

The Maryland State Board of Education adopted the Common Core standards in June, 2010, with full implementation in the 2013–2014 school year. Common Core is now part of the Maryland’s College and Career-Ready Standards.

Current Age Requirements

To be eligible for kindergarten, Maryland children must have turned age 5 on or before September 1. Compulsory school age in Maryland is also 5.

Early Entry Rules

Children can enter kindergarten early (at age 4) contingent on a local school board decision that the child demonstrates capabilities warranting admission to kindergarten.

Required Immunizations and Available Exemptions

In order to attend school in Maryland, 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.

In Maryland, both medical and religious immunization exemptions are allowed. The exemption waiver form is attached to the general immunization form and must be filled out and signed by a parent or guardian.

Pre-Entrance Testing/Screening Requirements

In the state of Maryland, local school districts are required to measure the school readiness of entering kindergarteners via an assessment system that’s been approved by the state Department of Education: the Maryland Model for School Readiness (MMSR), an adaptation of the Work Sampling System (WSS) assessment. The MMSR defines three levels of school readiness: fully ready, approaching readiness, and developing readiness. Each local school system continues to assess individual students throughout the school year.

Maximum Teacher to Pupil Ratio

There is no maximum teacher to student ratio specified in Maryland statute.

State Curriculum Alignment

In Maryland, the state curriculum is aligned with preschool standards all the way to grade 12.


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

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