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Kindergarten Requirements for the State of Michigan

Kindergarten Requirements for the State of Michigan

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Michigan has recently been undergoing a transition to a new cutoff age for kindergarten, which has resulted in the phase-out of developmental kindergarten programs across the state. In addition, the state has seen a trend recently in which more and more districts are beginning to offer full-day programs as an option for students. Here are the top laws and requirements in place for students entering kindergarten in the state of Michigan.

Kindergarten Not Mandatory

In the state of Michigan, kindergarten attendance is not mandatory. However, all districts are required to offer a half-day program.

Full-Day Kindergarten Not Required

Michigan school districts are not required by statute to fund full-day kindergarten for all eligible students. Half-day kindergarten programs are required to offer half of the minimum requirement for grades 1 through 12, which translates to roughly 549 hours per year and around 3.25 hours per day. According to an Education Week study published in 2015, between 70 and 79 percent of Michigan’s kindergarten students were enrolled in full-day programs.

Educational Standards: Common Core

The Michigan Board of Education adopted Common Core standards in June 2010, with full implementation in the 2014–2015 school year. Kindergarten learning expectations are aligned with both early childhood and elementary and secondary standards.

Current Age Requirements

Michigan law has recently updated its kindergarten entrance age requirements. In the 2013–2014 school year, students had to be age 5 by November 1, and in the 2014–2015 year, students had to be age 5 by October 1. But starting with the 2015–2016 school year, incoming kindergarteners must have turned 5 by September 1 of that school year. The compulsory school age set by Michigan state statute is age 6 by December 1, although parents are able to by law opt out of this if their child is under 9 if the nearest traveled road of a public school is over 2.5 miles from the student’s residence.

Early Entry Rules

Michigan statute does allow for an “opt-in,” or early entrance to kindergarten. If the student will turn 5 between December 1 and September 1, then the parent can sign a waiver to have the child attend kindergarten early.

Required Immunizations and Available Exemptions

In order to attend school in Michigan, 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.

Michigan offers three different types of immunization exemptions: medical, religious, and philosophical or personal belief. Medical contraindication forms must be completed and signed by the child’s physician, while religious and philosophical exemptions can be obtained by completing a waiver form. In addition, effective January 1, 2015, under Michigan state statute, the nonmedical waiver form must by certified by the health department.

Pre-Entrance Testing/Screening Requirements

The state of Michigan is in the process of implementing standard kindergarten entrance assessments. In 2012, the Department of Education announced a plan for the review, selection, and integration of a kindergarten entry assessment test, and a small-scale pilot testing of that assessment was launched in 2014.

Maximum Teacher to Pupil Ratio

Teacher to pupil ratio requirements for kindergarten classrooms are not specified in Michigan state statute.

Early Learning State Standards

In Michigan, there are Early Learning Expectations for Three- and Four-Year-Old Children in place that include all core subjects as well as social, emotional, and physical development, and even technology literacy. Michigan also has established Early Development and Learning Strands for infant and toddlers.

MDE Culture of Reading

The Michigan Department of Education has implemented a Culture of Reading program across its districts. This program is designed to promote early childhood learning and development to get all children reading proficiently by the end of 3rd grade.


All of these laws and requirements are reviewed in great detail on the state of Michigan’s Department of Education website.

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