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Kindergarten Requirements for Washington, DC

Kindergarten Requirements for Washington, DC

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Washington, DC, is one of 16 states/districts in the U.S. to require full-day kindergarten programs across all of its school districts. In addition, full funding for those programs is provided by the city. DC has long had a reputation for an emphasis on early education and currently has standards in place that extend from preschool and kindergarten all the way through 12th grade. Here are the top laws and requirements in place for students entering kindergarten in the District of Columbia.

Kindergarten Mandatory

Washington DC requires all of its students to attend kindergarten. In addition, to stay in compliance with statute all districts must offer full-day kindergarten programs.

Full-Day Kindergarten Required

Full-day kindergarten is a legal requirement in the District of Columbia and is to be provided at no charge to all students. Programs must run 180 days per year and a minimum of 5 hours per day, which averages out to around 900 hours per year.

Educational Standards: Common Core

In the District of Columbia, Common Core standards in English/language arts and mathematics were adopted in July, 2010, with full implementation in the 2012–2013 school year. Additional P–12 learning standards are in place in the areas of science, social studies, health education, physical education, and the arts.

Current Age Requirements

For all schools in Washington, DC, to be eligible for kindergarten children must have turned 5 on or before September 30 of that same school year. The compulsory school age in the District of Columbia is age 5.

Early Entry Rules

Early entrance rules and the availability of age exemptions or waivers for children under the age of 5 are not specified in Washington, DC, statute.

Required Immunizations and Available Exemptions

In order to attend school in Washington, DC, students must have proof of all required immunizations (or a valid exemption as discussed below). Required immunizations include DTaP, polio, MMR, hepatitis B, Hib, and varicella, and age appropriate immunizations must be documented on the Universal Health Certificate. See the list of required vaccinations here.

Medical exemptions for vaccines that are contraindicative for a child’s health are available in the District of Columbia. In addition, DC offers religious exemptions with a written statement from the parent or guardian expressing that the immunization would violate his or her religious belief.

Pre-Entrance Testing/Screening Requirements

There are district-wide entrance evaluations for all children entering kindergarten currently in place. Areas of assessment include reading (DIBELS) and mathematics.

Maximum Teacher to Pupil Ratio

In Washington, DC, maximum student to teacher ratio requirements are not specified in statute.

Early Learning Standards

Early learning standards are provided for infants and toddlers, as well as preschool students, and are aligned with the standards in place for kindergarten through grade 12. These standards cover all core subjects, as well as approaches to learning, creative arts, and physical, social, and emotional development.


All of these laws and requirements are reviewed in great detail on the District of Columbia Public Schools website.

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