Kindergarten Requirements for the State of Texas
Although full-day kindergarten is not a legal requirement in Texas, the Texas legislature provided funding opportunities for full day programs. Full-day kindergarten students are entitles to a greater degree of funding than half-day students, and the commissioner is able to give grants to those school districts looking to expand to full-day programs. Here are the top laws and requirements in place for students entering kindergarten in the state of Texas.
Kindergarten Not Mandatory
In Texas, children are not required by law to attend kindergarten. However, school districts must offer at minimum a half-day kindergarten program.
Full-Day Kindergarten Not Required
School districts in Texas are not required by statute to fund full-day kindergarten for all eligible students. In Texas, half-day kindergarten programs must be offered at minimum 180 days per year, 3 hours per day (around 540 hours per year), and full day programs must run for 180 days, 7 hours per day including lunch and recess (approximately 1,260 hours per year). According to an Education Week study published in 2015, between 80 and 89 percent of Texas’s kindergarten students were enrolled in full-day programs.
Educational Standards: Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills
Texas does not adhere to Common Core standards. Rather, it has its own state standards in place: Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, or TEKS. These standards address educational benchmarks in the areas of English/language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies, as well as in health education, foreign language, physical education, technology education, and the arts.
Current Age Requirements
To be eligible for kindergarten, Texas students must have turned 5 years old on or before September 1. Compulsory school age in Texas is age 6. However, if a student enrolls in school before the age of 6, then he or she would be subject to the compulsory attendance laws.
Early Entry Rules
For children under the age of 5, there is a district policy in place for early kindergarten entry for those students who demonstrate readiness on a statewide assessment. In addition, 5 year olds who have already completed kindergarten or who have been enrolled in first grade in another state may enter first grade in Texas.
Required Immunizations and Available Exemptions
In order to attend school in Texas, students must have proof of all required immunizations (or a valid exemption as discussed below). Required immunizations include DTaP, polio, MMR, hepatitis B, hepatitis A, and varicella. See the list of required vaccinations here.
Texas allows for exemptions from state vaccine requirements on medical, religious, and philosophical grounds. For religious and philosophical exemptions, the parent or guardian must present the school with a signed affidavit stating the reasons of conscience or religious tenets. The affidavit will be valid for a two year period.
Pre-Entrance Testing/Screening Requirements
Though not an assessment in and of itself, the TEKS standards identify the skills and concepts that 5 years olds are expected to have mastered by the end of the kindergarten year and therefore provide assessment guidelines for teacher. In addition, districts are required to use a reading instrument in kindergarten to track student progress.
Maximum Teacher to Pupil Ratio
In Texas, there may be a maximum of 1 teacher to 22 student in the classroom, although the goal is to maintain a ratio of 1 teacher to 20 students. This ratio is upheld from kindergarten to grade 4.
Pre-K State Standards
State pre-K guidelines align with K-12 Texas state standards and include core subjects like language and communication, emergent literacy reading and writing, math, science, and social studies, as well as fine arts, technology, and physical, social, and emotional development.
All of these laws and requirements are reviewed in great detail on the Texas Education Agency website.