Kindergarten & First Grade Enrollment Requirements
According to the Arizona Education Code 15-821 (C), “a child is eligible for admission to kindergarten if the child is five years of age. A child is deemed five years of age if the child reached the age of five before September 1 of the current school year… The governing board may admit children who have not reached the required age as prescribed by this subsection if it is determined to be in the best interest of the children. Such children must reach the required age of five for kindergarten…by January 1 of the current school year.” Contact your local school district or charter for specific information about their admission policy.
According to the Arizona Education Code 15-821 (C), “a child is eligible for first grade if the child is six years of age. A child is deemed six years of age if the child reaches the age of six before September 1 of the current school year. The governing board may admit children who have not reached the required age as prescribed by this subsection if it is determined to be in the best interest of the children. For children entering the first grade, such determination shall be based upon one or more consultations with the parent, parents, guardians, the children, the teacher and the school principal. Such children must reach the required age… of six for first grade by January 1 of the current school year.”
Under ARS § 15-901(2)(a)(i), kindergarten programs must serve children for a minimum number of hours to receive funding. The required hours are 356 hours per year. The minimum number of days a school must provide services during the academic year is 180 (ARS § 15-341.01). Serving children for 356 hours over a 180 day period translates to less than 2 hours per instructional day. Districts are currently funded at a half-day level for each kindergarten student. Some school districts and charter schools in Arizona offer a full day kindergarten program or an enrichment program that takes place outside of state-funded kindergarten hours. Districts may utilize other revenue such as Early Childhood Block Grant money, other budget resources or parent tuition for this option to help defray the costs of extending the kindergarten day. Contact your local school district or charter for specific information about their admission policy.
The Arizona Department of Health Service (ADHS) Immunization Program office web site provides helpful information regarding immunization schedules for children and adults as well as brief descriptions of the diseases for which vaccines are given. ADHS offers information on immunization requirements for children to attend schools and child care centers as well as background on the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. Funded by the federal government, VFC is a program that provides children with vaccines at no cost to families who may opt out of vaccination because of an inability to pay. All school and childcare centers must require children in attendance to be adequately immunized. The law requires parents or guardians to present a documented immunization record, which includes dates of all required immunizations.
Kindergarten Entry Assessment
Senate Bill 1572 ARS § 15-704. If sufficient monies are appropriated, beginning in the 2022-2023 school year, the State Board of Education shall adopt a statewide Kindergarten entry evaluation tool to administer to pupils in Kindergarten programs within forty-five calendar days after the beginning of each school year or within forty-five calendar days after a pupil enrolls.
For additional information, please see the Kindergarten Entry Assessment section on this page.
Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA)
For the 2020-2021 School Year, Arizona welcomed almost 73,000 Kindergarten children into the classroom. For approximately 40% of these children, this will be there first experience in a learning environment with other children. Kindergarten is where a child will continue to develop their skills relative to physical development, social and emotional development, language and literacy, approaches to learning, and cognitive development. A quality early childhood education provides children with the opportunity to explore the world around them and to learn as they explore. In addition, Kindergarten provides an opportunity for children to engage with peers of their own age and forge friendships and relationships.
Given the varying maturation levels upon Kindergarten entry, some children have a quarter more life experience then their class peers. In addition, children enter Kindergarten with varying degrees of preschool experience. The use of a Kindergarten entry assessment would allow teachers to have a clear understanding of and honor the skills that children bring to Kindergarten and adjust their instruction accordingly. With the adoption of the Arizona School Readiness Framework in 2017, we acknowledged that school readiness was more than literacy and numeracy but included five essential domains:
Language and Literacy Development
Approaches to Learning
Physical Well-being and Motor Development
Social and Emotional Development
Informational KEA Webinar
An informational webinar providing a high-level overview of the Purpose and Vision for the Kindergarten Entry Assessment in Arizona can be viewed below:
Currently ADE is actively involved in the Request For Proposal (RFP) process to identify a vendor for the state wide Kindergarten Entry Assessment tool and platform. ADE aims to have a vendor selected by Summer 2022. Please refer to the resources below to support the capacity building of program staff on the what and purpose of a KEA.
ADE is providing FREE tool agnostic KEA trainings. During this three-hour training participants will examine the importance of a Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA) as an ongoing formative assessment and reflect on their current teaching and assessment practices. Participants will practice using a variety of tools to gather authentic information about children’s knowledge, skills, and abilities. By leveraging the progressions of development and learning, participants will strengthen their ability to make accurate assessment decisions. The trainings being offered are tool agnostic. ADE is currently in the RFP process to identify a vendor for the KEA. These trainings are intended to build capacity around the KEA process.
** This training is currently being offered on a first come first serve basis. Spacing is limited to 30 participants per training. Register for one session per participant. If you are unable to attend, please cancel 72 hours in advance so that others on the waitlist may attend in your place. Registered participants will receive the Zoom link 24 hours prior to the training.
In an effort to prepare teachers and administrators for the implementation of the KEA, a professional development pilot entitled The Kindergarten Project was created in 2013. As a collaborative effort between the Arizona Department of Education, Alesi Group, LLC, and the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Foundation, The Kindergarten Project aimed to research and identify evidence-based kindergarten practices that support the whole child and increase the likelihood of academic and lifelong success.
The Kindergarten Experience, an extension of The Kindergarten Project, is a series of dynamic professional development trainings, workshops and opportunities that offer a comprehensive lens for evidence-based practices that support the whole child in kindergarten. These identified practices are the foundation for the effective and successful implementation of the Kindergarten Developmental Inventory.
For children, a smooth transition from preschool to kindergarten takes a collective effort from the community that surrounds them. According to Head Start's Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC), "by coordinating transition efforts, preschool and elementary programs can help children maintain and maximize the gains they made in preschool" (ECLKC Transition to Kindergarten ) To see successful transitions taking place, schools, instructional staff, families, and the community must plan for success. Familiarizing children with the kindergarten terrain before them, through introductions to the kindergarten classroom, teachers, and expectations; helps to minimize any stress associated with the transition. Whether a child is moving from a preschool, child care, or home setting, planning for a seamless transition process should take place over the entire pre-kindergarten year, not simply 2-3 months prior to preschool graduation. Administrators, early childhood professionals, child care providers and kindergarten teachers, as well as families can use the tips and resources below as guidance through the process.
Tips for Educators and Administrators
Create an implementation plan to ensure effective transitions for all children
Establish a kindergarten transition committee and identify the goals of your committee (i.e. To support all children in becoming ready for school)
Determine activities that will occur in your school to foster specific connections between child-school, family-school, school-school, and school-community.
Some examples include:
In the months leading up to graduation from preschool, preschool teachers can talk and read books to the class about kindergarten (expectations, daily schedule, etc.)
Arrange for preschool children to meet their kindergarten teacher prior to the start of the school year
Toward the end of their preschool year, teachers can give children the opportunity to practice some kindergarten rules and routines
Hold a parent orientation so families may familiarize themselves with the school and staff
Preschool directors and support staff meet to discuss ways to support children of varying backgrounds, needs, and abilities
Tips for Parents
Your child is unique, knowledgeable, and capable of achieving amazing things! Sharing helpful information about your child with his or her kindergarten teacher can aid in a smooth transition from preschool to the K-12 realm. There are so many ways that parents can encourage learning and development in the home, you are probably doing some of the activities below already:
Read to children at least 30 minutes each day
Provide children with opportunities to make good decisions and smart choices
Build a positive relationship with your child's teacher(s)
Find creative ways to turn everyday routines, such as getting dressed and eating dinner, into learning opportunities
Familiarize yourself with the new kindergarten, the teacher, classroom, and school as a whole
Attend orientations and family engagement activities hosted by your child's school
School districts and charter schools throughout Arizona may offer parents the choice of sending their children to a full day of kindergarten. Many benefits exist for children who attend full-day kindergarten programs, not the least of which is greater school success in later years. Parents and teachers alike also benefit from children's presence in an all day setting further increasing the positive effects on children's learning.
Parents of pupils who meet the enrollment requirements (age five by September 1 or age five by January 1 if the governing board deems it is in the best interest of the child) for voluntary kindergarten programs in a school district or charter school that offers Full-Day Kindergarten instruction may choose either half-day kindergarten instruction or full-day kindergarten instruction. Understanding that each child is an individual, the decision to send a child to a half-day or full day of kindergarten should include consideration of all the child's needs and abilities.
Researchers have found many benefits related to children's attendance in a Full-Day Kindergarten setting. In a summary of research on Full-Day Kindergarten, the Arizona State Department of Education found that although length of day plays a crucial role in the attainment of these benefits, professionals also seem to agree that providing children with instruction that is developmentally and individually appropriate is equally as important. Practitioners find that the positive effects of full-day kindergarten are best seen in settings where students learn through a combination of teacher and child initiated activities, explore topics in depth and are provided the opportunities to work in both small and large groups. Some additional benefits include:
Benefits for Students
More "time and opportunity to play with language" as well as to explore subjects in depth
A more flexible, individualized learning environment
More individual and small-group interaction with the teacher than is possible in most half-day classrooms
Benefits for Parents
Lowered childcare costs possible
The opportunity for lower-income families to enroll children in a higher quality early education program that might otherwise be affordable in the private market
Less difficulty scheduling childcare and transportation, especially when more than one child is enrolled in the same school
Increased opportunities to get involved in their children's classroom, as well as to communicate with the teacher
Benefits for Teachers
Reduced ratio of transition time to learning time
More time to spend with students individually and in small groups
More time to get to know and communicate with parents
More time to assess students and individualize instruction to their needs and interests
Fewer total students (20 to 25 per year as compared to 40 to 50) than in two half-day classrooms
Standards provide the framework for instruction at all grade levels, including kindergarten. The expectation is that children exiting kindergarten and moving on to first grade will have mastery of a variety of skills and concepts. Select Arizona’s Standards and Resources for Kindergarten to view the standards.
Implementing a quality Full Day Kindergarten (FDK) program requires planning and funding. Each individual district or charter will make decisions about which schools receive money and how it will be spent. A school district that establishes a full-day kindergarten program shall allow each parent of a kindergarten pupil to choose either half-day kindergarten instruction or full-day kindergarten instruction per A.R.S. 15-703.B. To find out more about the kindergarten programs offered by a specific school, contact information is found in the Arizona Department of Education School Directory.
FAQ for Kindergarten
What is the age requirement for Kindergarten entry in Arizona?
To be eligible to enroll in Kindergarten, a child must be 5 years old before September 1st of the school year for which the child will be attending.
What is the Arizona legislation regarding Kindergarten entry?
A child is eligible for admission to kindergarten if the child is five years of age. A child is deemed five years of age if the child reaches the age of five before September 1 of the current school year. A child is eligible for admission to first grade if the child is six years of age. A child is deemed six years of age if the child reaches the age of six before September 1 of the current school year. The governing board may admit children who have not reached the required age as prescribed by this subsection if it is determined to be in the best interest of the children. For children entering the first grade, such determination shall be based upon one or more consultations with the parent, parents, guardian or guardians, the children, the teacher and the school principal. Such children must reach the required age of five for kindergarten and six for first grade by January 1 of the current school year.
Can a child enroll in Kindergarten if his/her birthday is September 1st or later?
Many districts/charters adhere strictly to the Arizona legislation regarding Kindergarten eligibility and do not offer exceptions to the September 1st age requirement. However, some Arizona districts/charters choose to offer early Kindergarten entry for children whose birthday falls between September 1st - December 31st.
Is there a standardized placement exam for early Kindergarten entry?
No, the state of Arizona does not offer a standardized placement exam for early Kindergarten entry. If a school district or charter chooses to offer early kindergarten entry for children who turn 5 years old between September 1st - December 31st, the district or charter will establish their own policies and procedures to determine early Kindergarten enrollment eligibility.
Can a child enroll in Kindergarten if he/she turns 5 after December 31st?
No, a child is not eligible for Kindergarten entry if their 5th birthday falls after December 31st during the school year for which the child would be attending. Therefore, early Kindergarten entry options do not apply to children turning 5 on January 1 or later.
Can a child enroll in Kindergarten if he/she will be 6 years old by September 1st?
Yes, a child is eligible to enroll in Kindergarten if he/she will be 6 years old by September 1st.
Is there a Kindergarten Entry Assessment in Arizona?
Yes, Arizona Senate Bill SB1572 adopted a statewide Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA) as part of the state's early literacy initiatives. KEA is completed within the first quarter of school as teachers use observational and authentic evidence of learning - gathered during instruction - to identify where children are on construct progressions, or a sequenced set of understandings and skills.
The KEA provides a snapshot of a child’s development and is used to assess the five essential domains of school readiness:
Language and Literacy Development
Approaches to Learning
Physical Well-being and Motor Development
Social and Emotional Development.
The KEA is administered at the classroom level; aligned to Arizona’s standards; and is reliable, valid and appropriate for use with all children. The goal is to provide teachers a better understanding of each child’s progress toward meeting the standards and using the information gathered to impact children’s success.