Kindergarten Requirements for the State of Montana
Although full-day kindergarten is not required by state mandate in the state of Montana, between 80 to 89 percent of kindergarten students were enrolled in full-day programs last year. In addition, the state has in place Montana Early Learning Standards 2014, which set criteria for early childhood education professions working with young children up to age 5. Here are the top laws and requirements for students entering kindergarten in the state of Montana.
Kindergarten Not Mandatory
According to Montana state statute, children are not required to attend kindergarten. However, districts are required to offer at minimum a half-day kindergarten program.
Full-Day Kindergarten Not Required
Full day kindergarten programs are not required by the state of Montana. In addition, any full-day kindergarten program will be required to allow a child to enroll half time. The minimum amount of hours required for half-day kindergarten are 360 hours per year (around 2 hours per day) and for full-day programs 720 per year (around 4 hours per day). According to an Education Week study published in 2015, between 80 and 89 percent of Montana’s kindergarten students were enrolled in full-day programs.
Educational Standards: Common Core
Common Core standards were adopted by the Montana Board of Education in November, 2011, with full implementation completed in the 2013–2014 school year. Interestingly, Montana was the last of the 46 states to adopt these standards.
Current Age Requirements
In the state of Montana, to enter kindergarten a student must have reached the age of 5 on or before September 10 of that school year. Compulsory school age in Montana is 7.
Early Entry Rules
Montana state kindergarten policies do allow for age exemptions when it comes to early kindergarten entry. However, the decision of whether to allow early entry is left to individual school districts and local boards of trustees on a case-by-case basis.
Required Immunizations and Available Exemptions
In order to attend school in Montana, students must have proof of all required immunizations (or a valid exemption as discussed below). Required immunizations include DTaP, polio, MMR, and Hib. The varicella vaccine is recommended but not required. See the list of require vaccinations here.
Montana offers vaccine exemptions on both medical and religious grounds. For religious exemptions, the parent or guardian must submit to the school a notarized affidavit stating that immunization is contrary to the religious tenets and practices of the family. This must be done prior to the beginning of each school year.
Pre-Entrance Testing/Screening Requirements
There are no kindergarten entrance assessments specified in Montana statute.
Maximum Teacher to Pupil Ratio
According to state statute, the maximum teacher to student ratio in Montana stands at 1:20.
Early Learning Guidelines
The state of Montana has early learning guidelines in place that cover all core subjects as well as the social-emotional development and physical development and health of children ages 3 to 5.
All of these laws and requirements are reviewed in great detail on the state of Montana’s Office of Public Instruction website.