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Admission to Kindergarten and Beginners
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24 P.S.§5-503

DATE OF ISSUE: July 1, 2000

REPLACES: Admission to Kindergarten and Beginners,
                       BEC 24 P.S. §5-503, 
                       issued September 1, 1997

Establishment of Kindergarten:

Kindergarten programs are established and maintained by the local school board for children between the ages of four and six. Once the kindergarten is established it becomes an integral part of the elementary school program and must be treated as such. If the average attendance in a kindergarten program is ten or less for the school year, the board is to discontinue the program at the close of the school year.

The kindergarten program must provide a minimum of two and one-half hours of instruction for a half-day session or a minimum of five instructional hours for a full-day session.

Admission to Kindergarten:

The local school board has the right and responsibility for establishing the age at which a child can begin the kindergarten program. Once the age requirement is established, districts cannot refuse admission to a child that meets the age requirement. The district's minimum entry age cannot be less than four (for K-4) or five (for K-5) before the first day of the school term. A district can also establish its own early admission policy to kindergarten as long as the early admission age is not less than four years.

Attendance in Kindergarten:

Kindergarten is not compulsory. Compulsory attendance begins at age eight. A child coming to school for the first time may be placed in kindergarten, rather than first grade, if he or she is between the ages of four to six years. Kindergarten for many children is the beginning of the school experience, however, a kindergarten child is not included in the definition of the term "beginner."

Beginner:

A beginner is a child who enters a school district's lowest elementary school grade that is above kindergarten.

Admission of Beginners:

The local school board establishes the district's minimum age for beginners that may not be less than 5 years and seven months before September 1. The local school board must permit a child of beginners' age to attend the first grade and not require the child to attend kindergarten.

The local school board can establish a procedure for early admission of beginners upon parental request. The board is not required to admit a child as a beginner if the chronological age is less than the district's established admission of beginners. The admission of beginners to the public schools must be confined to the first two weeks of the annual term.

Acceptable Evidence of Pupil Age:

If the student's birth certificate is not available, documentation of age required for admission may be satisfied by a:

  1. Baptismal certificate or transcript of the record of baptism-- duly certified and showing the date of birth.
  2. Notarized statement from the parents indicating the birth date.
  3. Duly attested transcript of the birth certificate.
  4. Duly certified transcript of birth which shall appear satisfactory to the local school-if none of the above mentioned proofs are obtainable.

School Age:

School age is the period of a child's life from the earliest admission to a school district's kindergarten program, or when no kindergarten program is provided, to the district's earliest admission for beginners until the age of 21 years or graduation from high school, whichever occurs first.

Compulsory School Age:

Compulsory school age refers to the period of a child's life from the time the child enters school as a beginner which may be no later than eight years of age until the age of 17 or graduation from a high school, which ever occurs first.

Organizational Policy:

A child may not be required to repeat the kindergarten program. School districts are encouraged to utilize the Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) approach. Inherent in the utilization of DAP is the timely elimination of retention, transitional classes, developmental kindergarten or other titles that automatically add an extra year. In addition, readiness and screening tests are to be used to assist the instructional process, never to deny service and programs to children. Parents or guardians and school administrators, through information sharing and discussions, can agree and determine desirable alternatives for particular students.

School District Entrance Policies:

Each district determines its own entrance requirements in accordance with State Board regulations. In the event that a child has attended kindergarten in the Commonwealth and moves into another district, the department suggests that a child not be required to repeat kindergarten even though the child does not meet the new district's age requirement for beginners.

A child moving into Pennsylvania from a neighboring state who is already attending kindergarten should be considered for kindergarten placement based on the child's previous experiences and their compatibility with the program offered by the receiving district.

Every child of school age residing in a school district is entitled to attend the district's public schools.

REFERENCES:

 Purdon's Statutes

     24 P.S. §5-503
     24 P.S. §13-1304
     24 P.S. §13-1326
     24 P.S. §15-1501
     24 P.S. §15-1504

 State Board of Education Regulations

     22 Pa. Code §11.12
     22 Pa. Code §11.13
     22 Pa. Code §11.16

 BUREAU/OFFICE CONTACT:

 School Services Unit
 Pennsylvania Department of Education
 333 Market Street
 Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333
 Phone: 717.787.4860