50-State Comparison: State Kindergarten-Through-Third-Grade Policies

Source: Louisa Diffey, Education Commission of the States, June 4, 2018

High-quality, early elementary years offer a critical opportunity for development and academic learning for all children. Key components of a quality, K-3 experience include kindergarten, qualified teachers, seamless transitions, appropriate assessments and interventions, family engagement, social-emotional supports and academic supports. Education Commission of the States has researched the policies that guide these key components in all 50 states to provide this comprehensive resource. Click on the questions below for 50-State Comparisons, showing how all states approach specific policies, or view a specific state’s approach by going to the individual state profiles page.

Key Takeaways
– Seventeen states, plus the District of Columbia, require children to attend kindergarten, although the length of day varies across states.

– Thirteen states, plus the District of Columbia, require the district to offer full-day kindergarten.

– Eighteen states, plus the District of Columbia, have policies in place to guide the transition from pre-K to kindergarten. This guidance often includes written transition plans, family engagement, teacher/provider meetings and assessment data linkages.

– Forty-two states, plus the District of Columbia, detail the interventions available to K-3 students, often including extended instructional time, parental engagement, evidence-based instruction, summer reading opportunities and small group instruction.

– Twenty-nine states, plus the District of Columbia, have retention policies in place, which are designed to support students who are not on grade level by the end of third grade.

– Forty states, plus the District of Columbia, emphasize social-emotional learning in K-3 in statute, rules or regulations. Usually, social-emotional learning is emphasized in kindergarten entrance assessments, school readiness definitions and/or teacher training requirements…..