Kindergarten Requirements for the State of New Mexico
Over the past decade, New Mexico’s Public Education department has dedicated itself to strengthening its approach to early childhood education. Kindergarten attendance is required by law across the state, and a program is in place that gives young children the chance to attend a year of preschool prior to kindergarten. Here are the top laws and requirements in place for students entering kindergarten in the state of New Mexico.
The state of New Mexico requires kindergarten attendance by law and thus the state requires districts to offer at minimum half-day kindergarten programs.
Full-Day Kindergarten Not Required
It is not mandatory for school districts in the state of New Mexico to offer full-day kindergarten at this time. According to an Education Week study published in 2015, between 70 and 79 percent of New Mexico’s kindergarten students were enrolled in full-day programs.
Educational Standards: Common Core
The state of New Mexico adopted Common Core standards in November 2010 under the banner of the New Mexico Common Core State Standards (NMCCSS), with full implementation taking place in the 2013–2014 school year. According to the NM Public Education department, progress in math as well as English/language arts should be tracked across grade levels starting in kindergarten. This requires teachers to work collaboratively with teachers in other grades.
Current Age Requirements
To be enrolled in kindergarten in New Mexico, a child must have turned 5 prior to September 1. In addition, the compulsory school age according to state statute is 5 by September 1.
Early Entry Rules
While New Mexico does not have a state policy on acceleration, or early entrance to kindergarten, per se, students in kindergarten classrooms must meet the age requirements to qualify for state funding. Local districts can choose to admit younger students based on their own policies, but that student cannot be counted for funding purposes.
Required Immunizations and Available Exemptions
In order to attend school in New Mexico, 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 terms of exemptions from school vaccination requirements, the New Mexico Immunization Exception Statute allows only two types of exemptions: medical and religious. For medical reasons, a signed medical exemption must be obtained from a licensed physician. For religious exemptions, the child’s parent or guardian must ask an officer or leader of the church to write a letter stating or explaining the reasons for the exemption. If this is not possible, the then parent or guardian must complete a Certificate of Exemption Form.
Pre-Entrance Testing/Screening Requirements
The New Mexico Public Education Department requires that all public schools in the state conduct age-appropriate kindergarten assessment to determine the placement of students at the instructional level
Maximum Teacher to Pupil Ratio
Currently in the state of New Mexico, the recommended teacher to student ratio is 1 teacher to fifteen students, with the maximum class size set at 20. According to statute, teachers in classrooms with 15 to 20 students must have an assistant.
New Mexico PreK Program
New Mexico has voluntary preschool program in place created by the Pre-Kindergarten Act of 2005 for children who have reached their fourth birthday by September 1 of that same school year. The purpose of this program is to ensure that every child in New Mexico has the opportunity to attend a quality early childhood education program prior to kindergarten.
All of these laws and requirements are reviewed in great detail on the state of New Mexico’s Public Education Department website.