Kindergarten Requirements for the State of Mississippi
Mississippi is one of the few states in the U.S. to require by law the funding of full-day kindergarten, with over 90 percent of its students currently enrolled in full-day programs. In addition, Mississippi preschool education standards are aligned with K-12 Common Core standards, further strengthening the state’s early education system. Here are the top laws and requirements for students entering kindergarten in the state of Mississippi.
Kindergarten Not Mandatory
Kindergarten participation and attendance is not mandatory, according to Mississippi state law. However, all districts are required to offer full-day kindergarten programs to their residents.
Full-Day Kindergarten Required
All Mississippi school districts are required by statute to fund full-day kindergarten for all eligible students. According to state statute, kindergarten programs must be held at minimum 180 days per year, 5 hours per day, which translates to around 900 hours per year. According to an Education Week study published in 2015, above 90 percent of Mississippi’s kindergarten students were enrolled in full-day programs.
Educational Standards: Common Core
Common Core standards were adopted by the Mississippi Board of Education in June, 2010, with full implementation put into place in the 2013–2014 school year.
Current Age Requirements
To be eligible for kindergarten in Mississippi, a child must have turned 5 on or before September 1. Compulsory school age in Mississippi is age 6 by September 1.
Early Entry Rules
In Mississippi, if a child who is turning 5 after September 1 was a resident of another state where he or she attended at least 4 week of kindergarten, then he or she may attend kindergarten in Mississippi. The local superintendent in the district is responsible for verifying that the child was making satisfactory progress in his or her previous kindergarten program.
Required Immunizations and Available Exemptions
In order to attend school in Mississippi, 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.
Only medical immunization exemptions are permitted under Mississippi law. A certificate of exemption must be issued by a duly licensed physician. However, in January, 2015, legislation to expand vaccine exemptions in the state was introduced. HB 130 was specifically aimed at allowing a conscientious belief exemption and a more flexible medical exemption. An amended version of the bill was passed in February, 2015, removing the Department of Health’s ability to deny medical exemptions. Any language referring to conscientious objection was removed from the new bill.
Pre-Entrance Testing/Screening Requirements
In Mississippi, kindergarten entrance assessments are required on a statewide level. The Department of Education is responsible for recommending early literacy and numeracy screening assessment instruments to accommodate this requirement.
Maximum Teacher to Pupil Ratio
Although Mississippi statute recommends a teacher to pupil ratio of 1 teacher to 16 students, the cap ratio is set at 1 teacher to 22 students (or 2 teachers to 27 students with an assistant teacher).
Early Learning Standards
Mississippi has established learning standards for both 3 and 4 year old children in the areas of English/language arts and mathematics. These standards are aligned with the K–12 Common Core curriculum that’s been adopted statewide.
All of these laws and requirements are reviewed in great detail on the state of Mississippi’s Department of Education website.