Kindergarten Requirements for the State of Utah
Although Utah’s state government provides incentives for districts to offer extended- or full-day kindergarten programs, less than 60 percent of kindergarten age students attend a full-day program. Utah does require kindergarten assessments at the beginning of each school year, and kindergarten curriculums are aligned with education standards up through grade 12. Here are the top laws and requirements in place for students entering kindergarten in the state of Utah.
Kindergarten Not Mandatory
In Utah, children are not required by law to attend kindergarten. However, all districts are required to offer at minimum a half day program to all their students.
Full-Day Kindergarten Not Required
Utah school districts are not required to fund full-day kindergarten for all eligible students. However, districts can opt to apply for extended-day kindergarten, in which case the state uses an defined formula to allocate additional funding to that district. In Utah statute, the minimum required days/hours for kindergarten are 180 days per year, 2 hours per day for half-day programs (around 360 hours per year) and 180 days, 4 hours per day (not including lunch) for full-day programs (around 720 hours per year. According to an Education Week study published in 2015, less than 60 percent of Utah’s kindergarten students were enrolled in full-day programs.
Educational Standards: Common Core / Utah Core Standards
Common Core standards were adopted in Utah in August, 2010, with full implementation occurring in the 2013–2014 school year. Called the Utah Core Standards, these standards have been adopted from kindergarten through to grade 12.
Current Age Requirements
To be eligible for kindergarten entry, young students in Utah must have turned 5 before September 2 of that school year. Compulsory school age in Utah is 6 years old.
Early Entry Rules
There are no early entry or age eligibility exemptions specified in Utah state statute. Rather, it is left to local education agencies to determine whether and to what extent acceleration is permitted.
Required Immunizations and Available Exemptions
In order to attend school in Utah, 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. For varicella, a signed verification of the child’s history of the disease is acceptable. See the list of required vaccinations here.
Utah law allows for immunization exemptions based on medical, religious, and philosophical or personal grounds. Each exemption claimed must be accompanied by the appropriate Utah Department of Health Exemption Form and be signed accordingly: by the student’s licensed physician for medical exemptions and by a local health department representative for religious and personal exemptions.
Pre-Entrance Testing/Screening Requirements
Kindergarten entrance assessments in Utah are left to local districts, who are required by law to choose an assessment tool to assess every kindergarten student at the beginning of the school year. The assessment must meet certain parameters, including being based on research and data that determines a child’s readiness to begin kindergarten.
Maximum Teacher to Pupil Ratio
A maximum teacher to pupil ratio in kindergarten classrooms is not specified in Utah state statute.
Early Childhood Core Standards
Utah has pre-K state standards in place that include all core subjects as well as social/emotional development, creative arts, approaches to learning and science, and physical/health and safety.
All of these laws and requirements are reviewed in great detail on the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) website.