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Age for Starting School

In a sequence which has been phased in over a series of years, a child must be five years of age on or before September 1st to begin kindergarten. A child must be four years of age on or before September 1st to be considered for prekindergarten. A child must be six years of age on or before September 1st to begin first grade.

The State Board's action to phase-in the changes of date of entry concluded a process that began December, 2001. The Board had received a report from the Maryland Kindergarten Committee - co-chaired by Harford Superintendent Jacqueline C. Haas - which recommended the change.

"The academic rigor of the kindergarten classroom has been building over time," State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick said. "It is our goal that students enter Maryland schools ready to learn, and this measure is an important step in that direction."

Local boards of education may adopt regulations permitting a four-year-old child (if the child will turn 5 on or before October 15th of the current school year), upon request by the parent or guardian, to be admitted to kindergarten if the local system determines that the child demonstrates the capabilities warranting early admission. In addition, the regulations maintain the option for parents to request a "Level of Maturity Waiver" for the local board to exempt from mandatory attendance for one year a kindergarten eligible child. Applications for both early entry and maturity waivers are available the first Friday in May each year, at every attendance area school.