Kindergarten Requirements for the State of Oregon
Oregon has been at the forefront for the unequal access issue when it comes to full-day kindergarten implementation (as it pertains to charging tuition for full-day programs), with Oregon’s attorney general stating that school districts do not have the authority to collect tuition for full-day kindergarten. In Oregon, the trend is toward full-day programs, with districts across the state developing and launching their own programs in recent years. Here are the top laws and requirements in place for students entering kindergarten in the state of Oregon.
Kindergarten Not Mandatory
Students are not required by law to attend kindergarten in the state of Oregon. However, it is mandatory that districts offer at minimum half-day programs to their students in at least one school.
Full-Day Kindergarten Not Required
Full-day kindergarten programs are currently not mandatory in Oregon. However, there have been recent changes in Oregon law concerning the charging of tuition for such programs. Basically, school districts and charter schools were able to charge tuition for supplemental kindergarten programs through the school year 2014–2015, but beginning in 2015–2016 tuition will not be allowed. However, districts that offer a full-day program will receive a full weight in the State School Fund distribution formula. According to an Education Week study published in 2015, between 60 and 69 percent of Oregon’s kindergarten students were enrolled in full-day programs.
Educational Standards: Common Core for Now
Common Core standards were adopted in Oregon in October 2010 in English/language arts and mathematics, with full implementation in the 2014–2015 school year.
Current Age Requirements
To be eligible for kindergarten in Oregon, a student must have turned 5 on or before September 1.?The compulsory school age in the state of Oregon is age 7. However, that number drops to ages 5 to 6 once the child is enrolled in public school.
Early Entry Rules
For kindergarten, the state of Oregon does offer an early entry option. Students can “opt-in” prior to the age of 5 based on the decision of the local school board, which is based on the determination of that particular child’s cognitive, social, and physical development needs.
Required Immunizations and Available Exemptions
In order to attend school in Oregon, 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.
Both medical and religious exemptions are available in Oregon, but there are special rules that have recently been established concerning nonmedical exemptions. In Oregon, a new process for claiming nonmedical vaccine exemptions was implemented on March 1, 2014, that requires healthcare practitioner signatures in addition to parent signatures on exemption forms. Parents seeking nonmedical exemptions need to present a Vaccine Education Certificate (obtained either from a physician or by watching an online education module) demonstrating that they have been educated on the immunization process.
Pre-Entrance Testing/Screening Requirements
In Oregon, kindergarten entrance assessments are required statewide. Oregon’s Department of Education and Early Learning Council must develop and implement a kindergarten assessment and then provide training across all school districts for implementation of that assessment.
Maximum Teacher to Pupil Ratio
A maximum teacher to student ratio is not specified in Oregon statute. The state, however, offers student achievement grants to school districts for activities related to increasing student achievement, with class size reduction counted as an eligible activity.
Early Childhood Improvement Program
Oregon has in place an Early Childhood Improvement Program that steers efforts to improve kindergarten through 3rd grade curriculums so that they remain aligned with the most current research and yet sensitive to individual learning differences. There are also early learning state standards in place (Early Childhood Foundations) for all core subjects as well as social-emotional development, approaches to learning, and physical education and health.
All of these laws and requirements are reviewed in great detail on the state of Oregon’s Department of Education website.