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Kindergarten Requirements for the State of North Dakota

Kindergarten Requirements for the State of North Dakota

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Despite no mandatory kindergarten or required full-day programs, between 80 and 89 percent of North Dakota kindergarteners are enrolled in full-day programs. In addition, the state has early learning guidelines in place that help optimize preschool preparedness for the transition to kindergarten. Here are the top laws and requirements in place for students entering kindergarten in the state of North Dakota.

Kindergarten Not Mandatory

In North Dakota, children are not required by law to attend kindergarten. However, all districts must offer at minimum a half-day program to their residents. A district may opt out of this, but then it is required to pay the tuition needed for its students to attend a kindergarten program in another district.

Full-Day Kindergarten Not Required

North Dakota school districts are not required to provide fully funded, universal full-day kindergarten programs. In North Dakota, half-day kindergarten programs must at minimum run for 175 days per year, 2.8 hours per day (around 480 hours per year), and full-day programs must be offered 175 days per year, 5.5 hours per day (around 960 hours per year). According to an Education Week study published in 2015, between 80 and 89 percent of North Dakota’s kindergarten students were enrolled in full-day programs.

Educational Standards: Common Core

The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction adopted the Common Core standards in June 2011, with full implementation for the 2013 to 2014 school year. Standards include English/language arts, mathematics, and tools for teachers to aid in the implementation process.

Current Age Requirements

Young students must have turned 5 before August 1 of that same school year in order to be eligible to attend kindergarten. In North Dakota, the compulsory school age is 7 years old.

Early Entry Rules

To qualify for early entry into a North Dakota kindergarten, a student must be age 5 by December 1 and either enrolled previously in an approved kindergarten or having passed a district-approved developmental and readiness screening.

Required Immunizations and Available Exemptions

In order to attend school in North Dakota, 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 North Dakota, vaccination exemptions are available based on medical, philosophical or moral, and religious grounds. Medical exemptions require a signed certificate by a licensed physician stating that the immunization is medically contraindicative, while religious and philosophical exemptions require a certificate signed by the parent or guardian stating the family’s sincerely held belief that is opposed to immunization.

Pre-Entrance Testing/Screening Requirements

For North Dakota, kindergarten entrance assessments are option. Districts may at their discretion conduct entrance testing and formative assessments of incoming kindergarten students.

Maximum Teacher to Pupil Ratio

For kindergarten classrooms in North Dakota, the allowance is at maximum 1 teacher to 25 students.

Early Learning Guidelines

North Dakota has Early Learning state standards in place intended to prepare children ages 3 to 5 for kindergarten. These guidelines address all core subjects, as well as approaches to learning, expressive arts and creative thinking, health and physical development, and social and emotional development.


All of these laws and requirements are reviewed in great detail on the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction website.

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