Kindergarten Requirements for the State of Minnesota
The state of Minnesota has really ramped up its focus on kindergarten in recent years with its 2014 bid to provide state-funded full-day kindergarten for all residents across the state. Through this initiative, Minnesota is seeking to promote kindergarten programs that are academically rigorous and foster success throughout a child’s academic career, with a significant amount of time dedicated to developing a strong basis for literacy and mathematics. Here are the top laws and requirements in place for students entering kindergarten in the state of Minnesota.
Kindergarten Not Mandatory
In the state of Minnesota, kindergarten attendance is not required by law. According to state statute, with the consent of the parent a child who is a resident may be excused from compulsory attendance by the superintendent of schools until he or she reaches the age of 7 years old.
Full-Day Kindergarten Available
While school districts in the State of Minnesota are not required to offer full-day kindergarten programs to their students, they may still receive state funding if they choose to implement such programs. According to an Education Week study published in January 2015, between 70 and 79 percent of kindergarteners in Minnesota were enrolled in full-day kindergarten.
Educational Standards: Common Core Plus
In Minnesota, academic standards for kindergarten (up through grade 12) for English Language Arts and Reading were set in 2010 and will be reviewed during the 2018–2019 school year. Standards were set for Mathematics in 2007 and are scheduled to be revised in 2015–2016. All standards are based on the Common Core State Standards plus additions put in by the state of Minnesota.
Current Age Requirements
In Minnesota, the child must reach 5 years of age by September 1 of that school year in order to be eligible to enter kindergarten.
Early Entry Rules
According to Minnesota law, any school board has the right to establish a policy for the admission of selected pupils at an earlier age. However, the statute also requires that any school board that has adopted a policy that enables children to enroll early must establish a comprehensive evaluation to be used to determine the child’s cognitive, social, and emotional readiness, as well as that child’s ability to meet kindergarten grade expectations to be able to progress to first grade.
Required Immunization and Available Exemptions
According to Minnesota law, for their child to enter kindergarten, parents must show proof of specified doses of immunizations for measles, rubella, mumps, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, and hepatitis B, among others. A complete list of required vaccines can be found here.
In Minnesota, exemptions are available, including medical exemption (if an immunization is medically contraindicated or immunity already exists so that the vaccine is unnecessary) and elective exemption (based on parent beliefs) In the case of an elective exemption, a signed and notarized statement must be submitted to the school district.
Pre-Entrance Testing/Screening Requirements
In Minnesota, each child entering kindergarten must participate in an early childhood screening program as designated by the particular school district. As an alternative, a child can meet this requirement by participating in a comparable health and development assessment through a program like Head Start or a healthcare provider. Parents who are conscientious objectors to the screening program have the right to opt out.
Maximum Teacher to Pupil Ratio
According to Minnesota state statute, each district is required to reserve revenue from the general education fund to reduce class sizes in kindergarten (up to grade 3) to a level of 17 students to 1 teacher.
Minnesota’s Department of Education offers a wonderful resource for parents in its comprehensive website where these laws and requirements are explained in detail.