Kindergarten Requirements for the State of Virginia
Although many school districts in Virginia are facing strained budgets, most are actively seeking to provide universal full-day kindergarten for their students, which explains why Virginia student participation in full-day programs is between 80 and 89 percent. In addition, the state places a strong emphasis on preschool education, with Comprehensive Standards for 4 Year Olds in place for preschool programs. Here are the top laws and requirements for students entering kindergarten in the state of Virginia.
In the state of Virginia, students are required by law to attend kindergarten. Accordingly, all school districts in the state are required at minimum to offer a half-day program for all students. Students can opt out of mandatory kindergarten if by enrolling in a pre-K or a Head Start program or by submitting a parental waiver for children who are not mentally, physically, or emotionally prepared for kindergarten.
Full-Day Kindergarten Not Required
Virginia school districts are not required by law to fund full-day kindergarten for all eligible students. By law, schools must offer kindergarten at minimum for 180 days per year, 3 hours per day (which translates to 540 hours per year). According to an Education Week study published in 2015, between 80 and 89 percent of Virginia’s kindergarten students were enrolled in full-day programs.
Educational Standards: Virginia Standards of Learning
Virginia is one of the states in the U.S. that has not adopted the Common Core. Rather, it has its own Standards of Learning in the areas of English/language arts, history and social studies, mathematics, science, fine arts, health and physical education, and technology education.
Current Age Requirements
To be eligible for kindergarten in Virginia, students must have turned 5 years old on or before September 30. The compulsory school age for the state is 5.
Early Entry Rules
If a child will turn 5 by December 31 and the parent or guardian feels that he or she is ready for kindergarten, then there is an early entrance option. This is only available in districts offering pre-K, junior K, or a transitional first grade program and when the child has passed an appropriate readiness evaluation.
Required Immunizations and Available Exemptions
In order to attend school in Virginia, 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.
Virginia offers vaccination exemptions both on medical and religious grounds. For religious exemptions, the parent or guardian needs to submit an affidavit to the admitting official stating that the administration of the vaccine or vaccines conflicts with the student’s religious tenets or practices.
Pre-Entrance Testing/Screening Requirements
Kindergarten assessments are administered statewide. The Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening for Kindergarten (PALS-K) test is administered in the fall to all kindergarten students.
Maximum Teacher to Pupil Ratio
Virginia’s maximum teacher to pupil ratio is set at 1 teacher to 24 students (or 1 teacher to 29 students when an aide is present).
Comprehensive Standards for 4 Year Olds
In Virginia, there are early learning state standards established for 4 years olds that include all core subjects as well as standards for health and physical development, personal and social development, and visual arts and music.
All of these laws and requirements are reviewed in great detail on the state of Virginia’s Department of Education website.