Early Childhood Education FAQs

Click on a button title below to go to the appropriate FAQ section. If you have any specific questions about the following information, please send them to earlychildhoodeducation@tea.texas.gov.

Prekindergarten Eligibility FAQ

Click on a topic below to see the related questions and answers.

Statute: TEC §29.153 (b)

Resources: Student Attendance and Accounting Handbook (SAAH), Section 7.2 & 3.5

To be eligible for enrollment in a free prekindergarten class, a child must be at least three years of age on or before September 1 of the current school year (if a 3-year-old program is available) or four years of age on or before September 1 of the current school year and meet at least one of the following eligibility requirements:

  • unable to speak and comprehend the English language
  • is educationally disadvantaged (eligible to participate in the national school lunch program... guidelines about NSLP eligibility can be found in sections 4 and 6 of the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Administrators Reference Manual)
  • is homeless, as defined by 42 USC, §11434a, regardless of the residence of the child, of either parent of the child, or of the child's guardian or other person having lawful control of the child
  • is the child of an active duty member of the armed forces of the United States, including the state military forces or a reserve component of the armed forces, who is ordered to active duty by proper authority
  • is the child of a member of the armed forces of the United States, including the state military forces or a reserve component of the armed forces, who was injured or killed while serving on active duty
  • is or has ever been in the conservatorship of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (foster care) following an adversary hearing held as provided by Family Code §262.201 or has been in foster care in another state or territory, but currently lives in Texas
  • is the child of a person eligible for the Star of Texas Award as:

Eligibility applies to three-year-olds when a three-year-old program is available.

Documentation

A district must verify a student’s eligibility for pre-k in order to receive funding for the pre-k program. Districts must have the verification document as well as any required documentation on file for their records.

Key Points

  • Each district offering a prekindergarten program must develop a system to notify families with eligible children of the availability of the program TEC §29.153(e). Notice must be made in English and Spanish. The following sources can be used for prekindergarten notification:
    • Letter of notification sent home with students
    • Identification systems in place at times of registration of older siblings
    • Newspaper articles o Notices in public places o Radio announcements
    • Display on school marquee
    • Community newsletters
    • Social media announcements
  • Students may not be denied or excluded from participating in a prekindergarten program for any reason if they are deemed eligible TEC §29.153 (b).
  • “Child” includes stepchild. The stepchild is eligible for pre-k enrollment whether or not the child resides in the same household as the stepparent. Student Attendance and Accounting Handbook, Section 7.2.1
  • Once a student is determined to be eligible for pre-k, the student remains eligible for the remainder of the current school year in the district in which he or she resides or is otherwise entitled to attend for Foundation School Program benefits.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why isn't my child eligible for prekindergarten?
The Texas Legislature determines eligibility requirements for free, public prekindergarten in Texas. When the Texas legislature established the prekindergarten program the intent was, and still is, to provide early learning experiences to students who are most at risk for school failure. Therefore, the eligibility is limited. The legislature believed that a high-quality prekindergarten program could mitigate the impact of the at-risk characteristics, thereby assisting these students to become school ready when they enter kindergarten.

2. Does my child have to go to prekindergarten if he or she is eligible?
No. Prekindergarten is not mandatory. However, on enrollment in prekindergarten, a child must attend school. All students are subject to compulsory school attendance rules while they are enrolled in school. If a child has not reached 6 years of age as of September 1 of the current school year, the child may be withdrawn from school without violating compulsory attendance rules. TEC §25.085(c), SAAH, Section 3.5

3. Are districts required to serve three-year-olds who are eligible?
No. A district may offer prekindergarten classes if the district identifies 15 or more eligible children who are at least three years of age. A child who is three years old is eligible for prekindergarten only if the district operates a three-year-old prekindergarten program. TEC §29.153(a), SAAH, Section 7.2

4. May districts keep "waiting lists" of eligible children who are not being served?
No, not for eligible four-year-olds. By law, a school district must offer prekindergarten classes if it identifies 15 or more children who are eligible and are four years of age by September 1 of the current school year. If a district offers a program for eligible three-year-old students, a waiting list or lottery for three-year-olds only may be established under district policy. TEC §29.153(a)

5. Is it necessary to verify/qualify a four-year-old student for PK who was eligible and enrolled in PK as a three- year-old student?
LEAs are required to use their usual enrollment procedures, but they are not required to request additional documents to determine PK eligibility. Eligibility will be verified based on the documents shared in the previous year. LEAs should still use proper procedures to ensure a child is appropriately coded as economically disadvantaged or identified as an English learner/emergent bilingual. The PEIMS “PK Eligible Previous Year” indicator code should only be used if a student is not eligible for prekindergarten through any of the other eligibility criteria.

6. Is a child who was in foster care in a state other than Texas, but is now living in Texas, eligible for prekindergarten?
Yes, HB 725 extends prekindergarten eligibility to Texas children who are or have been in foster care in another state or territory.

7. What documentation is required to verify prekindergarten eligibility for a child who is currently or has previously been in foster care in another state or territory?
Acceptable documentation to verify prekindergarten eligibility include:

  • Foster care documents stating closure of a case
  • Court documents stating “state foster care” involvement
  • Adoption paperwork completed by the originating state

8. What documentation is required to verify prekindergarten eligibility for a child who is currently or has previously been in foster care in Texas?
Acceptable documentation to verify prekindergarten eligibility for children who have been in foster care in Texas include:

  • DFPS foster/kinship placement documentation
  • PreK verification letter (this letter can be requested by sending the child’s full name and date of birth to: Prekverificationltrs@dfps.texas.gov)

Overview

Statute: TEC §29.153 (b) & Texas Health and Safety Code, §191.0046
Resources: Student Attendance and Accounting Handbook (SAAH), Section 7.2.1, 7.3, and 3.11.4
Contact: District or Campus Pre-k Enrollment Specialist

To be eligible for enrollment in a free prekindergarten class, a child must be at least three years of age on or before September 1 of the current school year (if a 3-year-old program is available) or four years of age on or before September 1 of the current school year.

Documentation

A district must verify a student’s eligibility for pre-k in order to receive funding in the pre-k program. Districts must have the verification document as well as any required documentation on file for their records. The documents considered acceptable for proof of identification and age are:

  • Birth certificate
  • Statement of the child's date of birth issued by the division of the Texas Department of State Health Services responsible for vital statistics for school admission purposes
    • As provided for by the Texas Health and Safety Code, §191.0046. A child’s parent or guardian may request this statement free of charge from the division of the Texas Department of State Health Services responsible for vital statistics. To request this statement, the parent or guardian should complete the Mail Application for a Verification Letter, available at http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/vs/reqproc/forms.shtm, marking the application “Free for School Admission.”
  • Passport
  • School ID card, records, or report card
  • Military ID
  • Hospital birth record
  • Adoption records
  • Church baptismal record
  • Any other legal document that establishes identity and age

SAAH, Section 7.3, Texas Health and Safety Code, §191.0046

 

Key Points

  • If the school year starts before a student’s birthday, the student is eligible to attend school for the entire year as long as he or she will be the required age on or before September 1.
  • A child who is three years old is eligible for pre-k only if your district operates a three-year-old pre-K program.
  • A child who is eligible and enrolls in a pre-k class at the age of three remains eligible for enrollment in a pre-k class for the following school year. A district should still ensure the child is appropriately coded based on the eligibility requirement they meet.
  • Students under five years of age who do not meet eligibility requirements but are still served in the pre-k program should be coded ineligible half day (ADA eligibility code 5). Your district should ensure that serving students who are not eligible for the program does not interfere with serving students who are eligible for the program.
  • Both three-year-olds and four-year-olds may be served in the same pre-k class.
  • A student younger than five years of age is entitled to the benefits of the Foundation School Program (i.e. kindergarten) if: (1) the student performs satisfactorily on the assessment instrument administered under Section 39.023(a) to students in the third grade; and (2) the district has adopted a policy for admitting students younger than five years of age.
    • If a student is eligible for prekindergarten by the definition set forth in the Student Attendance and Account Handbook, section 7.2, the student is eligible for PK funding, even if the district serves the student in a kindergarten classroom. TEC §29.151, TEC §48.003(d), SAAH, Section 3.11.4

 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can a child who is five years of age on September 1 of the current school year be enrolled in a pre-k class? A child who is five years of age on September 1 of the current school year is eligible for enrollment in a pre-K class if the child’s parent or guardian elects for the child to repeat pre-K in accordance with the TEC, §28.02124, or if the child would have been eligible to enroll in pre-K during the previous school year under the TEC, §29.153(b), and the child has not yet enrolled in kindergarten.

2. Are districts required to serve three-year-olds who are eligible? No. A district may offer prekindergarten classes if the district identifies 15 or more eligible children who are at least three years of age. A child who is three years old is eligible for prekindergarten only if the district operates a three-year-old prekindergarten program. TEC §29.153(a), SAAH, Section 7.2

3. Is it necessary to verify/qualify a four-year-old student for PK who was eligible and enrolled in PK as a three-year-old student? LEAs are still required to do their normal qualification process for previously enrolled three-year-old students, even though they would automatically qualify for PK based on their qualification and enrollment as three-yearold PK students. The PEIMS qualification code of automatic eligibility is a code of last resort and is only to be used if a student does not qualify for PK in any other way.

4. If a student was eligible and enrolled in pre-k as a three-year-old, but withdrew during the year, are they still eligible for pre-k four? TEC, Sec. 29.153(e-1), does not differentiate between students who enroll in prekindergarten and remain in the program throughout the year and students who enroll and withdraw before the end of the year. Therefore, a student who enrolled in prekindergarten as a three-year-old who later withdraws for homeschooling (or private schooling) remains eligible to enroll in public school prekindergarten in the following year.

Overview

Statute: TEC §29.153 (b)(2), TEC §5.001(4), & 42 USC, §1758

Resources:

Contact: District Food and Nutrition Specialist -or- Texas Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Division - (877) TEX-MEAL (Se habla Español)

Definitions

Educationally Disadvantaged: Any student considered educationally disadvantaged is eligible to receive free pre-k. The TEC, §5.001(4), defines “educationally disadvantaged” as “eligible to participate in the national free or reduced-price lunch program.”

Household: A household is defined as a group of related or unrelated individuals who are not residents of an institution or boarding house but who are living as one economic unit. This means they generally reside in the same house and share expenses such as rent, utilities and food.

Income: Gross income to be reported is any money received on a recurring basis. Specifically, it means all money earned before any deductions (i.e. income taxes, social security taxes, insurance premiums, bonds, & charitable contributions).

For further explanation of definitions (and examples) please review the Administrator’s Reference Manual found at the bottom of the Texas Department of Agriculture: National School Lunch program web page.

Eligibility Options

Income Level: Eligibility may be based on total income and size (i.e., number of household members) of a participant’s household. Children from households whose incomes are at or below the levels shown in the appropriate table are eligible for the national school lunch program. The table can be found at: squaremeals.org.  The Texas Department of Agriculture provides a tool for households to enter income information and determine if the household qualifies for meals before applying. That tool is available at: squaremeals.org. For information about determining a student’s eligibility based on income, please view the Administrator’s Reference Manual (ARM), Section 4 Eligibility Determination.

Automatic Eligibility: Children who are automatically eligible for the NSLP under criteria in federal law 42 USC, §1758 include the following:

  • a child who is a member of a household receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, State Medicaid programs, or similar income-tested programs or other source of information, as determined by the Secretary of Agriculture (42 USC, §1758f)
  • a child who is an eligible participant in Head Start or Early Head Start
  • a child who is considered a migrant child
  • a child who is considered homeless
  • a child who is considered a runaway
  • a child who is a foster child

For exact definitions of the terms used in the previous paragraph see 42 USC, §1758.

Documentation

A district must verify and document that a student is considered “educationally disadvantaged” either because the student’s family income level meets requirements for participation in the NSLP or because of automatic eligibility for the NSLP.

For information about the appropriate documentation necessary for both eligibility options, please view the Administrator’s Reference Manual (ARM), Section 6 Verification of Eligibility

Key Points

  • A student remains eligible for an entire school year. For example, a student who qualifies for prekindergarten because the student is eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program (educationally disadvantaged) remains eligible even if the family's annual income increases above the qualifying level during the school year.
  • Qualifying for prekindergarten on the basis of being educationally disadvantaged means that a student is eligible to participate in the NSLP, even if the family opts not to participate.
  • Many districts pre-register pre-k students to determine and plan for the size of the next school year’s pre-k program. Since income level documentation must be current, your district must verify income level documentation on or after April 1 of each school year. When verifying income, districts should correlate the eligible school year with the qualifying NSLP year.
  • If a student qualifies for pre-k on the basis of being eligible to participate in the NSLP, and the student then moves to a new district, the new district should review the previous district’s determination for accuracy. If the determination was accurate, the student does not need to requalify for the pre-k program in the new district. If an error was made, the student must requalify for the pre-k program in the new district

Overview

Statute: TEC §29.153 (b)(1), 19 TAC §89.1215(b), 19 TAC §89.1226(d), 19 TAC §89.1226(g), 19 TAC §89.1205 (a) and (c)

Resources: Student Attendance and Accounting Handbook (SAAH), Section 6.2, 6.3, 6.10, and 7.2.2

Contact: District or Campus Pre-k Enrollment Specialist or LPAC Coordinator

Identification Process

Appropriate pre-k staff members determine that a student is eligible for pre-k based on not speaking and comprehending the English language by identifying the child as EL/EB following this process:

  • Upon enrollment in a Texas public school, a student’s parent completes a home language survey (HLS), indicating the language used in the home most of the time and the language used by the student most of the time (see SAAH 6.10.1 Home Language Survey Requirements).
    • If a language other than English is indicated on any portion of the survey, the district must assess the student for English language proficiency.
  • Assess the student for English language proficiency using the state-approved English language proficiency assessment (19 TAC §89.1226(d)).
    • A student will be identified as emergent bilingual if the student’s ability in English is so limited or the student’s disabilities are so severe that the English language proficiency assessment cannot be administered (19 TAC §89.1226(g))
  • The language proficiency assessment committee (LPAC) convenes to identify the student as emergent bilingual or as English proficient, based on the results of the English language proficiency assessment, and recommends placement of the identified emergent bilingual in either the bilingual or ESL education program, in accordance with 19 TAC §89.1205 (a) and (c).
  • The LPAC must give written notice to the student’s parents informing them that the student has been classified as emergent bilingual and requesting documented parental approval to place the student in the required bilingual or ESL education program.

For more information, please visit the SAAH Section 6.2

Documentation

If the student is eligible for pre-k based on the identification as an English learner/emergent bilingual, the following documentation must be on file.

  • Home language survey. TAC §89.1215(b) The home language survey shall be administered in English, Spanish and the home language. For students of other language groups, the home language survey shall be translated into the home language whenever possible. The survey shall contain the following questions:
    • “What language is used in the child’s home most of the time?”
    • “What language does the child use most of the time?”
  • Proof that the student's score on the state’s English oral language proficiency test is below the level designated for indicating English proficiency.
  • Documentation of the LPAC’s identification of the student as an English learner/emergent bilingual.

For more information, please visit the SAAH Section 7.2.2.1

Key Points

  • If a student who qualifies for pre-k on the basis of identification as an English learner/emergent bilingual, is receiving required services through the bilingual/ESL program, and then moves out of the district, the student would be qualified to attend pre-k in the new district provided that the documentation described in the SAAH 7.2.2.1 Documentation Required is made available to the new district.
    • This requirement also applies to pre-k EL/EB three-year-olds who are promoted to the pre-k EL/EB four-year-old program.
    • If the student is not receiving required services through the bilingual/ESL program because of a parental denial, the student remains eligible.
  • If a district preregisters pre-k students to determine and plan for the size of the next school year’s pre-k program, the eligible students remain eligible without reverification prior to the next school year. However, your district must have all the documentation described on file before claiming a student as eligible for pre-k funding on the basis of the student’s being.
    • If preregistration has not occurred, starting on the first day of school, a district has up to four calendar weeks to complete this documentation. However, as stated before, a district may not claim a student as eligible for pre-k funding until this documentation is on file. For more information see SAAH 6.10.1 Home Language Survey Requirements.

Overview

Statute: TEC, §29.153(b)(6), Texas HB 725, & Texas Family Code Section 262.201

Resources: Student Attendance and Accounting Handbook (SAAH) Section 7.2.6, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/, & TEA Foster Care Webpage

Documentation

Children who are or were previously in the conservatorship of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services

  • PreK verification letter (this letter can be requested by sending the child’s full name and date of birth to: Prekverificationltrs@dfps.texas.gov)
  • DFPS foster/kinship placement documentation

Children who are currently or were previously in foster care in another state or territory, but currently live in Texas

  • Foster care documents stating closure of a case
  • Court documents stating “state foster care” involvement
  • Adoption paperwork completed by the originating state

Key Points

  • If a student qualifies for pre-k on the basis of having ever been in foster care, the student remains eligible for enrollment after the student begins a pre-k class even if that student is no longer in foster care.
  • Many districts pre-register pre-k students to determine and plan for the size of the next school year’s pre-k program. Districts may begin this process on or after April 1 of each year. Once a child is determined to be eligible, they remain eligible without reverification prior to the next school year.

Overview

Statute: TEC, §29.153(b)(4)

Resources: Student Attendance and Accounting Handbook (SAAH), Section 7.2.5

Contact: District or Campus Pre-k Enrollment Specialist

The following definitions apply when determining a student’s pre-k eligibility based on the membership of a parent in the armed forces: Those who qualify as a member of the armed forces include:

  • active duty uniformed members (parents or official guardians) of the US Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, or Coast Guard who have eligible children residing in Texas
  • activated or mobilized uniformed members of the Texas National Guard (army or air guard), or activated or mobilized members of the reserve components of the US Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, or Coast Guard who have eligible children residing in Texas
  • uniformed service members who are missing in action (MIA) or who are injured or killed while on active duty

Also, for purposes of eligibility for enrollment in a pre-k program, a child is considered to be the child of a member of the armed forces if either of the following conditions is met:

  • the child is the biological or adopted child of the member of the armed forces
  • the child is a stepchild of the member of the armed forces (whether or not the child resides in the same household as the stepparent)

Documentation

If the student is eligible for pre-k because the student is the child of a member of the armed forces of the United States, including the state military forces or a reserved component of the armed forces, who is on active duty or has been injured or killed while on active duty, one of the following forms of documentation must be on file:

  • Documentation that a district employee verified the student’s US DoD (Department of Defense) photo identification for children of active duty service members. The documentation must include the printed name and signature of the person who verified the identification and the date that it was verified.
    • If the student has not been issued such an ID, then documentation must be on file that a district employee verified the military member’s DoD photo identification, or other DoD-issued documentation indicating that the person is an active duty member of the military, and verified documentation showing that the student is a child of the military member. The documentation to be kept on file must include the printed name and signature of the person who verified the DoD and other documentation, the date that it was verified, and a photocopy of the documentation showing that the student is a child of the military member.

Important: Your district should not make a copy of DoD identification

  • A statement of service from the installation adjutant general director of human resources for children of active members, mobilized reservists, or members of the Texas National Guard. This office uses military personnel systems and documentation to verify that the service member is in fact on active duty in Texas or a Texas mobilized reservist. For Texas National Guard members (army or air guard), the Texas National Guard’s Office of the Adjutant General may provide documentation or an official letter from a commander (at or above the lieutenant colonel or, for the navy, at the commander level) confirming active or mobilized status, which is acceptable documentation.
  • For children of service members who died or were killed, a copy of the death certificate using the service-appropriate DoD form or a DoD form that indicates death as the reason for the separation from service.
    • If the DoD form is not available, the family can ask the casualty assistance office of the closest casualty area command in Texas to provide a memorandum signed by the casualty office stating that the service member was killed in action or died while serving.
  • A copy of Purple Heart orders or citation for children of service members, mobilized reservists, or guardsmen who were wounded or injured in combat.
  • A copy of the line of duty determination documentation for children of service members, mobilized reservists, or guardsmen who were injured while serving active duty but were not wounded or injured in combat.
    • If this documentation is not available, a copy of an official letter from a commander (at or above the lieutenant colonel or, for the navy, at the commander level) that states that the service member was wounded or injured while on active duty is acceptable.
    • A copy of a letter from the US Department of Veterans Affairs indicating that the service member has a service-connected disability and is eligible for disability compensation is also acceptable.
  • Documentation that a service member is MIA for children of service members who are MIA.

Key Points

  • “Parent” includes stepparent. A stepchild is eligible for Pre-k enrollment whether or not the child resides in the same household as the stepparent.
  • If a student qualifies for pre-k on the basis of being a child of an active duty member of the armed forces of the United States, including the state military forces or a reserve component of the armed forces, the student remains eligible for enrollment if the child’s parent leaves the armed forces or is no longer on active duty after the student begins a pre-k class.
  • Many districts preregister pre-k students to determine and plan for the size of the next school year’s pre-k program. Districts may begin this process on or after April 1 of each year. Once a child is determined to be eligible, they remain eligible without reverification prior to the next school year.

Overview

Statute: TEC, §29.153(b)(3), 42 USC, §11434a, 42 USC, §11302

Resources: Student Attendance and Accounting Handbook (SAAH), Section 7.2.4 and Glossary & Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1966 (ESEA) - Part C – Homeless Education

Contact: Texas Education for Homeless Children and Youth - http://www.theotx.org/, 1-800-446-3142, Local district Homeless Education Liaison

A student is eligible on the basis of homelessness if your district’s local homeless education liaison identifies the student as homeless, regardless of the residence of the child, of either parent of the child, or of the child’s guardian or other person having lawful control of the child.

As a result of the 86th Texas Legislature, SB 668, relating to data collection, reporting, and notice requirements for certain entities, a uniform definition of “homeless children and youth” was established in the Texas Education Code, which is now in alignment with the criteria found in 42 USC, §11434a. The term “homeless child,” as used in the prekindergarten statute, the TEC, §29.153(b)(3), is also defined by 42 USC, §11434a.

42 USC, §11434a defines “homeless children and youths” as:

“Individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence (within the meaning of 42 USC, §11302). This includes:

(i) Children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; are abandoned in hospitals; or are awaiting foster care placement;

(ii) children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings (within the meaning of 42 USC, §11302);

(iii) children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and

(iv) migratory children (as such term is defined in section 6399 of title 20)*

*The term "migratory child" means a child or youth who made a qualifying move in the preceding 36 months

(A) as a migratory agricultural worker or a migratory fisher; or

(B) with, or to join, a parent or spouse who is a migratory agricultural worker or a migratory fisher.

Documentation

A letter from the local homeless education liaison is an acceptable form of documentation.

Key Points

  • Many districts preregister pre-k students to determine and plan for the size of the next school year’s pre-k program. Districts may begin this process on or after April 1 of each year. Once a child is determined to be eligible, they remain eligible without reverification prior to the next school year.

Overview

Statute: TEC §29.153 (b), Texas Government Code - § 3106.002, § 3106.003, § 3106.004

Resources: Student Attendance and Accounting Handbook (SAAH), Section 7.2.7 & Star of Texas Webpage (list of past honorees can be found here)

Contact: District or Campus PK Enrollment Specialist

A student is eligible on the basis that his or her parent or guardian is eligible for the Star of Texas Award for:

  • peace officers
  • firefighters
  • emergency medical first responders

For the student to be eligible, the parent must have been deemed eligible for the Star of Texas Award between 2004 and the current year of the awards ceremony.

Documentation

The Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division honors recipients annually in September. The resolution (certificate) awarded to an individual serves as proof of eligibility to enroll these children in free pre-k if they are age eligible. A list of past honorees may be viewed on the Criminal Justice Division— Past Honorees webpage.

Honorees may also provide a letter from their local representative as documentation for eligibility. If an individual has a pre-k-aged child and has been nominated but not notified as an honoree prior to the current school year, that individual may make a request that the Early Childhood Education Division determine eligibility based on the nomination submitted for review to the Criminal Justice Division.

Key Points

  • Many districts preregister pre-k students to determine and plan for the size of the next school year’s pre-k program. Districts may begin this process on or after April 1 of each year. Once a child is determined to be eligible, they remain eligible without reverification prior to the next school year

Prekindergarten Program FAQ

Click on a topic below to see the related questions and answers.

1. Are districts required to have a prekindergarten program?
Yes, if a district identifies 15 or more eligible children who are four years of age on or before September 1 of the current school year, they are required to offer a prekindergarten program. A district may not charge tuition for a prekindergarten class offered under this section. TEC §29.153(a-1) A school district may offer prekindergarten classes if the district identifies 15 or more eligible children who are at least three years of age.

2. Does the full-day prekindergarten program requirement apply to all prekindergarten students?
No. The full-day prekindergarten program requirement only applies to eligible four-year-olds.

3. What are the Pre-K requirements under House Bill 3?
House Bill 3 requires that all prekindergarten programs offered to eligible four-year-old students:

  • be full-day (75,600 operational minutes)
  • meet the high-quality requirements adopted by the legislature in 2015: curriculum, student progress monitoring, teacher qualifications, teacher-to-student ratio, family engagement plan, and program evaluation

4. Is Pre-K funded for full or half-day?
Prekindergarten students generate half-day ADA funding. However, to support implementation of full-day prekindergarten, HB3 increased funding to support early childhood education programs through the addition of the early education allotment.

5. How does full-day prekindergarten for eligible four-year-olds impact year-round schools?
Year-round schools would be subject to the same full-day prekindergarten requirement for eligible four-year-olds.

6. If a district begins offering a full-day prekindergarten program for eligible four-year-olds and begins to see an influx of eligible four-year-olds wanting to enroll mid-year, is the district still required to serve all eligible four- year olds?
Yes. The district would be required to serve all eligible four-year-olds. However, a district may request a full-day exemption if fewer eligible students would be served in a full-day program (typically due to physical capacity or personnel constraints). It should be noted that the full-day exemption is only an exemption from providing full-day prekindergarten not an exemption from serving eligible four-year-olds.

7. What is the room size requirement (minimum square feet) for a prekindergarten classroom?
Classrooms for prekindergarten, kindergarten and first grade shall have a minimum of 36 square feet per pupil or 800 square feet per room.

8. What are the minutes of operation for a full-day prekindergarten program?
What are the minutes of operation for a half-day prekindergarten program? The minutes required for a full-day prekindergarten program are 75,600 operational minutes. The total may include recess, meals, intermission and rest time. The minutes required for a half-day program would be 32,400 instructional minutes. The total includes recess, meals, and intermission, but excludes rest time.

9. In a mixed-aged classroom, can the eligible three-year-old students attend half-day while the eligible four-year-old students attend full-day?
Prekindergarten classrooms serving eligible four-year-old students must be conducted as a full-day program unless the LEA has a current full-day waiver with TEA. LEAs have the option of creating a PK3 program that operates half-day, full-day, or a combination of the two. If the LEA offers a half-day PK3 program, it is allowable, in a mixed-age classroom, for eligible three-year-old students enrolled in the PK3 program to attend for a half day while the eligible four-year-old students attend for the full day.

10. May a district serve prekindergarten and kindergarten students in the same classroom?
Yes, students of both grade levels may be served in the same class. Keep in mind that such a program must meet program requirements (e.g. high-quality prekindergarten components) and provide instruction for all of the students, that is grade level appropriate and aligned with the appropriate grade-level expectations (e.g. Pre-k Guidelines or Kindergarten TEKS).

11. Do all Texas pre-k students receive free eligibility for School Nutrition Programs?
No. The Texas Department of Agriculture's request for a waiver to permit all Texas pre-k students to receive free eligibility for School Nutrition Programs (SNP's) was denied for the 2020-2021 school year.

Program Offerings

A district shall offer prekindergarten classes if a district identifies 15 or more eligible children who are at least four years of age by September 1 of the current school year*.

A school district may offer prekindergarten classes if the district identifies 15 or more eligible children who are at least three years of age.

*tuition may not be charged for a prekindergarten class under this section

For eligibility inquiries, please see the Eligibility FAQ section for more information.

Reference: TEC §29.153 (a-1) 

Notification of Programs

Each school district shall develop a system to notify the population in the district with children who are eligible for enrollment in a prekindergarten class under this section of the availability of the class. The system must include public notices issued in English and Spanish. Notification may include, but is not limited to the following options:

  • A written letter sent home with students
  • Identification systems during registration for older siblings
  • Newspaper articles
  • Notices in public places
  • Radio announcements
  • Displays on school marquee
  • Community newsletters
  • Social media announcements

Reference: TEC §29.153 (e)

Funding

Districts can receive half-day average daily attendance (ADA) funding through the Foundation School Program (FSP). Funding for the second half of the day must come from another funding source. Options for other possible funding sources include:

  • Early education allotment
  • Compensatory education
  • Title I

Reference: Student Attendance & Accounting Handbook section 3.2.2.

Class Size

Districts may not enroll more that 22 students in a prekindergarten class.

Reference: TEC §25.112 (a)

Instructional Minutes

Full-Day Prekindergarten – 75,600 operational minutes are required

Half-Day Prekindergarten – 32,400 instructional minutes are required

  • Operational minutes: includes intermission, meals, recess, and rest time
  • Instructional minutes: includes intermission, meals, recess, but excludes rest time

Reference: Student Attendance & Accounting Handbook section 3.2.2.

High-Quality Prekindergarten Components

A prekindergarten class under this section for children who are at least four years of age must comply with the program standards required for high quality prekindergarten programs. The high-quality program standards (also known as high-quality components) include:

  • curriculum
  • student progress monitoring
  • teacher qualifications
  • teacher to student ratio
  • family engagement
  • program evaluation

 

The high-quality components apply to all prekindergarten programs serving eligible four-year-olds. This includes districts, open-enrollment charters, and districts of innovation. High-Quality PreK Components Districts TEC §29.153 (c) (c-1) Open-enrollment Charters TEC §12.104 (b)(3)(H) Districts of Innovation TEC §12A.004 (a)(1)

Reference: TEC §29.153 (c-1)

Data Reporting

Districts that offer a prekindergarten program are also required to report data to PEIMS and ECDS.

PEIMS = Public Education Information Management System (for all local education agencies)

ECDS = Early Childhood Data System (for prekindergarten and kindergarten programs only)

Purpose: To better inform families, school administrators, educators, community stakeholders, and policy makers about the effectiveness of specific programs. Curriculum Student Progress Monitoring Teacher Qualifications Teacher to Student Ratio Family Engagement Program Evaluation Prekindergarten Program Requirements Full details regarding the state reporting data standards can be accessed by viewing the Texas Education Data Standards webpage or TWEDS, the web-based version. These standards describe data reporting requirements, responsibilities, and specifications.

References: TEC §29.1532(c), TEC §29.161, TEC §29.167 -170

Frequently Asked Questions

1. If a district begins offering a full-day prekindergarten program for eligible four-year-olds and begins to see an influx of eligible four-year-olds wanting to enroll mid-year, is the district still required to serve all eligible four-year-olds? Yes. The district would be required to serve all eligible four-year-olds.

2. Are students who are eligible for prekindergarten and also receiving early childhood special education services automatically required to be served in a full-day prekindergarten program? The ARD committee will determine the frequency, location, and duration of the prekindergarten program that the student participates in. For example, ECSE students eligible for pre-k are entitled to participate in a full-day pre-k program, unless the ARD committee determines that a shorter day is appropriate.

3. Who can help an LEA if they are having difficulty uploading their data into ECDS? LEAs are encouraged to seek help from one of the following when experiencing difficulty uploading their data:

  • Each district’s assigned PEIMS Coordinator
  • Each Education Service Center’s trained and certified “ECDS Champion“
  • Submit a TIMS ticket; TIMS is a web-based system that allows one to submit incidents when problems or questions come up.

4. Is there a maximum class size for prekindergarten classes? Yes. Districts may not enroll more than 22 students in a prekindergarten class.

5. Can districts request an exemption to the prekindergarten class size requirement? Yes, a district must submit a request for a maximum class size exception for any classrooms in prekindergarten that exceed the 22 students class size limit (Texas Education Code §25.112). A district seeking an exemption must notify the commissioner and apply for the exemption not later than the later of 1) October 1; or 2) the 30th day after the first school day the district exceeds the limit.

Additional Resources

 

 

Statute: TEC §28.02124

Resources: Restart Grade; SB 1697 Parental Options for Prekindergarten and Kindergarten Repeat/Restart Guidance Table

Senate Bill (SB) 1697 became effective on June 15, 2021, and established new Texas Education Code (TEC), §28.02124, Parental Option for Student Retention. SB 1697 allows parents or guardians to opt to have their child—

  • repeat prekindergarten;
  • enroll in prekindergarten if the child was eligible to enroll in prekindergarten in the previous school year, under TEC, §29.153(b), and has not yet enrolled in kindergarten;
  • repeat kindergarten;
  • enroll in kindergarten if the child would have enrolled in kindergarten in the previous school year and has not yet enrolled in first grade;
  • for grades one through three, repeat the grade in which the student was enrolled in the previous school year.

 

This legislation applies to both open-enrollment charter schools and school districts. Parents or guardians are required to notify the school district or charter school in writing that they elect for their child to repeat a grade level or enroll in prekindergarten or kindergarten. Unless the local education agency gives different instructions, parents or guardians can use this Grade Repeat Request Form to submit their request.

Key Points

A school district or charter school may disagree with a parent who elects to have their child repeat a grade level. If a district or charter school disagrees, the district or charter school must convene a retention committee and meet with the parent or guardian to discuss the request. The retention committee will discuss the merits of and concerns about advancement or retention and review and consider the following:

  • Student's grade in each subject or course
  • Results of any formative or summative assessments administered to the student
  • Any other available academic information to determine the student's academic readiness for the next grade or a given course

After the parent/guardian has participated in the retention committee meeting, the parent will decide if the student will repeat a grade. The district or charter school is required to abide by the parent’s or guardian’s decision. The retention committee must be comprised of the following:

  • Principal or the principal’s designee
  • Student’s parent or guardian
  • Teacher who taught the grade or course for which the parent wants the student to retake or be retained
  • Additional teachers at the discretion of the principal if the student will repeat multiple courses.

Statute does not differentiate between free prekindergarten and tuition-based prekindergarten when a parent requests to repeat Pre-k. The Early Childhood Education Division created the SB 1697 Parental Options for Prekindergarten and Kindergarten Repeat/Restart Guidance Table to provide support on parent requests to repeat or enroll and student generated funding. Keep in mind:

  • A student who repeats Pre-k due to parent choice (as defined in Texas Education Code §28.02124, which was updated via SB 1697) is still eligible for ADA funding for the second year of Pre-k.
  • If a student was enrolled in a tuition-based Pre-k class, a parent is entitled to request that the student repeat tuition-based prekindergarten. Additionally, the student would pay tuition unless the student is determined eligible under TEC §29.153(b) for free Pre-k.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does SB 1697 apply for the 2021-2022 school year only? The provisions of the legislation for students enrolled in prekindergarten through grade 3 have no expiration date.

2. Can a charter school deny a parent’s request to repeat if the request is submitted after the enrollment lottery and all seats at that child’s current grade level are already filled? No, the charter school must allow for the parent’s request to repeat for that child at their current grade level. Charter schools should account for any potential increases in student-teacher ratio through their admissions and enrollment processes.

3. If a parent is considering that their child repeats a grade and is applying for a seat at a charter school during the open enrollment period, can the parent request that the child’s name be placed in the lottery at both the current and next year’s grade level? No, a student may only apply for one enrollment seat at a charter school. However, if the parent has already decided that their child should repeat, they may apply for the seat at the child’s current grade level.

4. If a parent enrolls a child at a charter school they have not previously attended and subsequently requests that the child repeat the previous grade, is the charter school required to honor the request if the charter school does not have the previous grade as an approved grade level? No, if the charter school does not have the previous grade as an approved grade level, the charter school cannot honor the parent’s request to repeat. A charter that provides educational services to a student in an unapproved grade level is in material violation of its charter contract.

5. Can a charter school leave some enrollment seats open at each grade level after the enrollment lottery is conducted to anticipate possible parent requests or must a charter fill all seats? A charter school may choose to leave some seats unfilled after the lottery is conducted to ensure that seats are available for any possible parent requests.

6. If a student was never enrolled in Pre-k last year but the parent requests to enroll in Pre-k this year, how do we determine eligibility? The student would have to have been eligible for Pre-K the previous school year. For example, to determine eligibility for educationally disadvantaged, the family will need to submit income documents from the previous school year to determine eligibility for the child to enroll in Pre-k for the current school year. The previous year's NSLP Income Guidelines will be used to verify that the child was eligible in the previous school year.

7. If the student was enrolled as a 3- or 4-year-old, and qualified in the previous school year, then would the same qualification documentation be used to enroll the student in Pre-k for the current school year as a 4-or 5-year-old? Yes, eligibility for the current school year is based on the documentation from the previous school year, except in instances where an ineligible student has since become an eligible student. LEAs should review the eligibility documentation to verify that eligibility was established correctly and enroll the child for requested grade level.

8. Can a parent request that a child repeat prekindergarten once the school year has started? Yes, SB 1697 does not expressly require that a parent request be made prior to the start of the school year. It states that requests to repeat or enroll are made prior to enrollment of the child. The parent can make the referenced request after the school year has begun and prior to enrolling the child in school.

9. If a child started Kindergarten in another school district or state and has moved to Texas or to another school district within Texas, can the parent request the child repeat prekindergarten in the receiving school district? If the child has already started kindergarten/enrolled in school, the child would not be able to repeat prekindergarten in the receiving school district. If the child has not enrolled in kindergarten, the parent request can be honored by the receiving district.

10. Are emergent bilingual students, who repeat Pre-K, eligible to enroll and attend the emergent bilingual summer school program? TEC, §29.060(a), provides that emergent bilingual students are eligible for summer school if they are eligible for admission into kindergarten or first grade. So, a student who would otherwise enroll in kindergarten but is retained in prekindergarten at the parent's request remains eligible (and would be counted for allotment and ratio purposes) for the emergent bilingual summer school program.

11. A child did not attend Pre-k this year, but the parent now wants to enroll the child in Pre-k for the upcoming year rather than enrolling the child in kindergarten. How do you qualify a student based on previous year eligibility if qualifying by language? If the child registered/was eligible for Pre-k last year and never enrolled, then the child would be eligible to enroll in Pre-k. A new home language survey, testing, and the EL/EB process would begin again. Trained staff should choose the assessment (pre-LAS or LAS) based on the child’s age at the time of testing regardless of grade level.

12. Can a parent request for a student to repeat who is not eligible for Pre-k and served in a self-contained ECSE classroom? Can a parent request for a student to repeat who is not eligible for Pre-k but has been served in the general education classroom (placed in Pre-k by ARD committee)? A parent of an ineligible student can request for the student to repeat in Pre-k, but it would be limited to tuition-based Pre-k (if offered by the district), unless the student’s ARD committee placed the student in free Pre-k. (Special education status does not affect requests under SB 1697, and ARD grade placement determinations are made separately under federal and state special education-specific laws.)

1. How is the full-day prekindergarten for eligible four-year-olds funded?
Districts will receive FSP funding for the first half of the day, as was the case before HB 3. As was also the case before HB 3, districts can devote other sources of funding (for example: compensatory education, Title I, or funding from tier II). With HB 3, districts will also receive the early education allotment, which may also be used to fund the second half of the day. Other increased funding from HB 3 may also be relevant.

2. If a district receives an exemption from providing full-day prekindergarten, will they still receive the early education allotment?
Yes, a district will receive the early education allotment for any purpose that supports improvements in prekindergarten through 3rd grade reading and mathematics proficiency, even if they receive an exemption from full-day prekindergarten.

3. Are districts required to use the early education allotment towards full-day prekindergarten?
If a district has been funding full-day prekindergarten through local and federal funds, may they continue to do so? If a district is supporting their full-day program with local or State Compensatory Education funds, they may continue to do so as long as the early allotment funds are being used to improve programs and services in language and mathematics for prekindergarten through third grade.

4. Can a district continue to use their Title I, Part A funds towards a full-day prekindergarten program, or is that supplanting?
Title I, Part A has a different definition of supplement/not supplant. As long as the LEA has an appropriate supplement/not supplant methodology implemented, then it would not be supplanting to use Title I, Part A funds to fund full-day prekindergarten.

5. May a district use the early education allotment to enroll non-eligible 3 and 4-year olds?
Yes, if a district is providing full-day high quality prekindergarten to all eligible four-year-olds, they may use any remaining funds to improve programs and services in prekindergarten through third grade.

6. Can I use pre-k funding and/or early education allotment funds to purchase classroom supplies, desks, chairs, books, etc. for pre-k classes?
Yes, you can use both funding sources to purchase items for the pre-k classroom.

7. Can I use state compensatory education funds to purchase classroom supplies, desks, chairs, books, etc. for pre-k classrooms?
Yes, you may use compensatory education funds to purchase items for pre-k classrooms as long as the students meet the eligibility for use of compensatory education funds, i.e. meet one of the 14 criteria in TEC 29.081(d) or are economically disadvantaged. In addition, if a pre-k classroom has both eligible and ineligible students then allocating the cost of these items is allowable. For example, if 50% of the students are eligible for free and reduced lunch, then compensatory education funds can pay for 50% of the pre-k classroom items.

General Enrollment

1. Does the agency have any outreach materials to help schools notify communities about their prekindergarten programs?
Yes. The Early Childhood Education Division developed the Enrollment Toolkit that includes materials to support program availability outreach to communities.

2. How do we know if our child is the right age?
Age is always calculated as of September 1 of the current school year (for the purposes of establishing eligibility). If school starts before the student's birth date, the student is still allowed to begin school on the start date, as long as they are the required age on or before September 1st. SAAH, Section 14, Glossary

PreK Enrollment

1. Does a school have to notify families about the availability of prekindergarten programs?
Yes. Each district offering a prekindergarten program must develop a system to notify families with eligible children of the availability of the program. The notice must be made in English and Spanish. TEC §29.153(e)

2. What are some ways school districts can notify the availability of the prekindergarten program?
The following sources can be used for prekindergarten notification:

  • Letter of notification sent home with students
  • Identification systems in place at times of registration of older siblings
  • Newspaper articles
  • Notices in public places
  • Radio announcements
  • Display on school marquee
  • Community newsletters
  • Social media announcements TEC §29.153(e)

3. May eligible students be excluded from enrollment if they are not potty trained or have frequent bathroom accidents?
No, they may not be excluded from enrollment because eligible students are not required to be potty trained. TEA does not regulate procedures for assisting a child with bathroom capabilities; local district policy governs hygiene assistance. It is recommended that schools establish written guidelines for managing these situations.

4. May districts keep "waiting lists" of eligible children who are not being served?
No, not for eligible four-year-olds. By law, a school district must offer prekindergarten classes if it identifies 15 or more children who are eligible and are four years of age by September 1 of the current school year. If a district offers a program for eligible three-year-old students, a waiting list or lottery for three-year-olds only may be established under district policy. TEC §29.153(a)

Statute:

TEC §29.1531, Tuition-Supported and District-Financed Prekindergarten

TEC: §25.0031, Tuition for Students Holding Certain Student Visas

Resources: Prekindergarten Tuition

1. Can a LEA charge tuition to provide an additional half-day of Pre-K to eligible 3-year-old children?
Yes, a district or open-enrollment charter school may charge tuition to provide an additional half-day of prekindergarten classes to those 3-year-old children who are eligible for free prekindergarten classes.

2. How often does my district have to submit a Prekindergarten tuition rate request letter?
Districts are required to submit a prekindergarten tuition rate request letter to the commissioner every year. The district editor should follow this sample proposed tuition rate request letter: Sample Proposed Tuition Rate Letter

3. How much can my district charge for tuition to serve ineligible three- or four-year-olds?
If a district charges tuition, the tuition may not be higher than is necessary to cover the added costs of providing the additional prekindergarten classes, including any costs associated with data collection and reporting requirements. See the Tuition Rates Table

4. Can a LEA offer their employees a discounted tuition rate?
Yes, districts may offer their employees a discounted tuition rate. The discounted rate must be less than the amount approved in the district's annual request letter. In this case, the district will provide the additional costs that tuition does not cover.

5. Can a district offer a “sliding scale” for tuition for families of ineligible three- and four-year-olds?
Yes, districts may offer a "sliding scale" for tuition. The "sliding scale" rates must be equal to or less than the amount approved in the district's annual request letter process. In this case, the district will provide the additional costs that tuition does not cover.

6. Do districts receive Average Daily Attendance (ADA) funds for ineligible students enrolled in a tuition based prekindergarten program?
No, tuition programs serve children who are ineligible, they do not meet eligibility requirements to attend prekindergarten; therefore, districts do not receive (ADA) state funds to support tuition-based prekindergarten programs.

7. Is our tuition-based prekindergarten program required to implement the HB3 high-quality prekindergarten components?
No, it is highly recommended that all prekindergarten programs implement the HB3 high quality prekindergarten components, per statute (TEC §29.164 - 29.172) and Commissioner’s Rule (TAC §102.1003), but the high-quality Pre-k components are only required for a full-day prekindergarten program serving eligible 4-year-old students.

1. May TEA waive the requirement to begin a prekindergarten program?
Yes. On application of a district, the commissioner may exempt a district if the district would be required to construct classroom facilities in order to begin offering prekindergarten classes. A district waiver request must be accompanied by a plan from the district on how they will begin implementation of the program by the beginning of the school year following the request if the district continues to have 15 or more eligible students. Ongoing and continuous waivers and waivers requesting to not add students to an existing program will not be approved. TEC §29.153(d)

2. May a district request a waiver to either partially, or fully exempt them from providing a full-day prekindergarten to eligible four-year-olds?
No. The full-day prekindergarten waiver request was available in school year 19-20 and was extended to school year 20-21 due to COVID. Beginning in school year 21-22, only requests for full-day prekindergarten waiver renewals will be accepted. Please see the Full-Day Prekindergarten Exemption Renewal Process for further information.

3. If a district elects to request a renewal of their full-day prekindergarten waiver, when and through what process will that be available?
A renewal of a full-day prekindergarten waiver may be requested through the State Waivers Unit. LEAs with an approved exemption may apply for a one-time renewal of the full-day prekindergarten exemption towards the end of the expiring school year. When applying for a renewal, the LEA must attach documentation to the waiver application to show they have adhered to the Full-Day Prekindergarten Exemption Process. Documentation should include evidence that additional four-year-old children were served in full-day prekindergarten each year of the waiver period OR evidence that proposals for partnerships were solicited each year during the waiver period.

4. Is the use of an existing elementary classroom for prekindergarten an instance of repurposing under HB3?
No, if the prekindergarten classroom was an existing elementary classroom prior to the current elementary school year, this would not be considered repurposing as it will still be a classroom. If the space was not an elementary classroom and required modifications to become a classroom, this would then be considered repurposing.

5. When I apply for a full-day prekindergarten waiver renewal, what information will be requested of my LEA?
The following information will be required:

  • LEA contact name, phone and email
  • Date of LEA board meeting • Exemption condition
  • Date of public meeting
  • Did your LEA solicit partnership opportunities? Yes/No
  • Did your LEA receive proposals for partnerships? Yes/No
  • Did your LEA consider the proposals for the partnership it received? Yes/No
    • If yes, type of partnership and number of solicitations received:
Type Number of Solicitations
Texas Rising Star - 3+ star certification  
Nationally Accredited  
Head Start  
Texas School Ready  
Met the Requirements of TEC 29.1532  
Other  

 

  • Requested years
    • Select requested years (up to 3 years)

6. Why should my district request a waiver renewal for full-day prekindergarten?
House Bill 3, 86th Texas Legislature, required that full-day prekindergarten be provided for all eligible four-year-old students beginning on September 1, 2019. LEAs that were unable to meet the full-day requirement for all eligible four-year-old students should have submitted an exemption request in school year 19-20 or 20-21. The exemption could have been requested for up to three years. If at the end of the exemption period, the LEA determines that they are not able to offer full-day prekindergarten for all eligible four-year-olds, they may apply for an exemption renewal. Exemption renewals may be granted if it is determined that:

  1. the LEA would be required to construct classroom facilities in order to provide prekindergarten classes; or
  2. implementation would result in fewer eligible children being enrolled in prekindergarten.

7. When and how will an LEA be notified about the approval of a waiver renewal submitted for full-day prekindergarten?
LEAs will be notified within thirty days from the date of submission regarding the status of their exemption renewal request. The State Waivers Unit will notify the contact person indicated on the exemption application by email or US mail regarding the approval of the requested exemption renewal.

8. What is the purpose for soliciting and considering partnerships with public or private child care providers before requesting a full-day prekindergarten waiver?
It is important to consider all options for providing full-day prekindergarten for all eligible four-year-old students before requesting an exemption renewal. For example, child care providers may have additional space available immediately for serving more eligible students. There may also be cases where child care providers are already serving four-year-old students who may also qualify for prekindergarten. Entering into a partnership will allow the LEA and the child care provider to leverage funding, resources, and services to provide a high-quality prekindergarten program. Even if a partnership may not be a goodfit at the moment, the solicitation process will allow for the LEA and child care providers to build relationships for possible future partnership opportunities.

9. How do LEAs determine the need to solicit partnership proposals for years two and three of the waiver term?
If an LEA has a two- or three-year exemption, the LEA is required to show progress each year. In order to show progress, the LEA should increase the number of children who are receiving full-day prekindergarten each year that an exemption is in place. If an LEA is not able to show progress, the LEA should hold an additional public meeting to solicit and consider proposals for partnerships with public or private child care providers.

10. Is there a certain process LEAs should follow when soliciting and considering partnership proposals?
LEAs should make the proposal process known to the community, especially private or public child care providers (e.g., through the LEA’s website, social media, and the local workforce board). Sufficient time should be given to child care providers to submit their proposals for consideration. LEAs must review and consider proposals from interested eligible child care providers at a public meeting. An LEA must solicit and consider proposals for partnerships with public or private child care providers who meet one of the following status requirements:

  • Texas Rising Star program providers with a three-star certification or higher
  • Nationally accredited
  • Head Start program providers
  • Texas School Ready! participants
  • Meet the requirements under Texas Education Code, §29.1532:

If an LEA contracts with a private entity for the operation of the LEAs prekindergarten program for three-year-olds, the provider must at a minimum comply with the applicable child care licensing standards adopted by the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services under Human Resources Code §42.042. If an LEA contracts with a private provider for the operation of the LEAs prekindergarten program for four-year-olds, the private provider must be licensed by and in good standing with the Department of Family and Protective Services.

The private provider must also:

  1. be accredited by a research-based, nationally recognized, and universally accessible accreditation system approved by the commissioner;
  2. be a Texas Rising Star Program provider with a three-star certification or higher;
  3. be a Texas School Ready! participant;
  4. have an existing partnership with a school district to provide a prekindergarten not provided under this subchapter; or
  5. be accredited by an organization that is recognized by the Texas Private School Accreditation Commission.

TEC §29.171(b)

11. Does the full-day prekindergarten waiver exempt an LEA from the high-quality prekindergarten components?
An LEA that requested an exemption from full-day prekindergarten in school year 19-20 or 20-21 had the option to request an exemption from one or more of the high-quality prekindergarten components. The full-day prekindergarten exemption may be renewed only once. This renewal includes any exemptions from the high-quality prekindergarten components that were approved with the original waiver request.

12. Can an LEA add an exemption from the high-quality prekindergarten components to a full-day prekindergarten waiver renewal?
No. The renewal is only for what was approved with the original waiver request.

13. Does the high-quality prekindergarten (HQPK) component exemption for “Additional Teacher Qualifications” exempt the LEA from hiring certified teachers in prekindergarten classrooms that serve four-year-old students?
No. The HQPK component exemption is for additional teacher qualifications required by HB 3. All school district prekindergarten classrooms that serve four-year-old students must have an appropriately certified teacher, per Texas Education Code Sec. 21.003.

14. Can a district continue to partner with a Head Start or licensed child care to provide a full-day program and receive the early education allotment?
Yes. If a district has a partnership with a Head Start or licensed child care program, they may continue to braid their half-day average daily attendance with Head Start and/or child care funds. The early education allotment may be used to supplement quality improvement efforts to meet the high-quality prekindergarten components.

15. What is the definition of a public meeting?
To be considered a public meeting, the local education agency (LEA) must issue a public notice of the time, place, and subject matter of the meeting. Many LEAs address the solicitation and review of prekindergarten partnership proposals from local child care providers during a scheduled school board meeting. However, holding the public meeting during a school board meeting is not a requirement.

1. What is an early learning partnership?
Early learning partnerships are formal collaborations between local education agencies (LEAs) such as school districts or open-enrollment charters, and private early learning programs (ELPs) or Head Start centers. The resulting partnership allows them to dually enroll children and provide prekindergarten and/or additional comprehensive, wrap-around services.

2. If my district isn't ready to dually enroll children, can we still create a partnership?
Yes, LEAs that are not ready to implement a formal partnership (dually enrolled children) may implement an informal partnership focused on sharing professional development, developing school readiness strategies, collaborating on family engagement efforts, improving transitions to kindergarten, or sharing other resources. Informal partnerships do not pass through funding.

3. With which child care providers can my district partner?
The eligibility criteria for Early Learning Programs vary depending on the age of the children served.

Early learning programs must meet the following eligibility criteria to partner with a LEA:

PK3 Partnership Classroom

  • Meet the applicable child-care licensing standards adopted by the Department of Family and Protective Services under Section 42.042, Human Resources Code; and the class size requirement for prekindergarten classes Section 25.112(a).
  • This is the minimum standard, but it is highly recommended that whenever possible, LEAs choose to partner with providers that meet an additional quality indicator such as those listed for PK4 classrooms

PK4 Partnership Classrooms

The provider must be licensed by and in good standing with the Department of Family and Protective Services. The private provider must also be one of the following:

  • Texas Rising Star 3- or 4-Star,
  • Nationally accredited,
  • Head Start program provider,
  • Texas School Ready! participant
  • In an existing partnership with a school district to provide a prekindergarten program not provided under this subchapter. TEC 29.171(b)

4. Does TEA require my district to participate in early learning partnerships?
While TEA does not require districts to participate in partnerships, there are instances when the statute requires consideration and/or solicitation for partnerships.

  • when requesting a full-day prekindergarten exemption renewal (TEC29.153(d-1))
  • before constructing, repurposing, leasing a classroom facility, or issuing bonds for the construction or repurposing of a classroom facility to provide prekindergarten classrooms (TEC 29.153(g))
  • before a district can establish a new prekindergarten program (TEC 29.1533)

5. Is there a resource available to help my district make a plan for developing a partnership?
Early learning partnership resources and guidance are available on the ECE Division Early Learning Partnerships web page.

6. Why should my district develop an Early Learning Partnership with a local Early Learning Program?
Early learning partnerships provide many benefits to LEAs. Each LEA can develop a partnership that addresses the unique needs of their community, so the benefits depend on the needs the partnership addresses. Benefits of partnerships include but are not limited to the following: expanded access/options for families, increased enrollment, increased classroom space, shared professional development, shared materials, shared family engagement, shared community resources, increased school readiness, and expanded early childhood community.

7. What is required before a district can establish a new prekindergarten program?
Before an LEA can establish a new prekindergarten program, a school district shall consider the possibility of sharing use of an existing Head Start or another child-care program site as a prekindergarten site. TEC 29.1533

8.What program standards are required for early learning partnership classrooms that are housed at a community child care provider site?
Early learning partnership classrooms must meet all program standards required by the school district and child care licensing. Partnership classrooms that serve eligible four-year olds are also required to meet all High Quality Prekindergarten standards included in HB3.

9.Is my early learning partnership classroom required to have a certified teacher as the teacher of record?
A teacher serving eligible three-year-olds in a partnership classroom must be appropriately certified. TEC 21.003 It is best practice for open-enrollment charters and districts of innovation to hire teachers who are appropriately certified in early childhood. Open-enrollment charters must follow the specifications within their charter contract regarding teacher certification. Districts of innovation must follow their local innovation plans regarding the certification of teachers. A teacher serving eligible four-year-olds in a partnership classroom must be appropriately certified and have an “additional qualification.” This applies to districts, open-enrollment charters, and districts of innovation. TEC 29.167(b)

10. What qualifications are required for partnership classroom substitute teachers?
Substitute teachers for the partnership classroom must meet the LEA standards set for substitute teachers. The substitute policy, credentials and related matters for the partnership classroom are determined by the district's policies and legal duties, because the district has contracted with the child care provider to serve dually enrolled students. TEC, Sec. 11.157

11.Which stakeholder is responsible for providing Special Education and ESL/Bilingual Education services for children in my partnership classroom?
The LEA in which the children are enrolled is responsible for implementing Special Education and/or ESL/Bilingual Education services. The child care provider can also support in the classroom but the SPED team and/or LPAC team at the LEA is ultimately responsible.

High-Quality Prekindergarten Program Component FAQs

Click on a topic below to see the related questions and answers.

1. Do the high-quality components apply to charter schools, districts of innovation, and districts who are in partnerships with local child care centers or Head Start programs?
Yes, they do. Any public prekindergarten program serving eligible four-year-old students must implement the high- quality prekindergarten components. This includes:

  • Districts: TEC §29.153 (c) (c-1)
  • Open-enrollment charters: TEC §12.104 (b) (3) (H)
  • Districts of Innovation: TEC §12A.004 (a) (1)

2. Our district is currently offering prekindergarten even though we do not have 15 eligible students. Must we offer full-day services, as outlined in the Texas Education Code, and do we have to comply with the high-quality components?
If a district serves eligible four-year-old students in a prekindergarten program that generates Foundation School Program (FSP) funding, it must operate full-day services and comply with the high-quality components.

1. What is the purpose of the High-Quality Prekindergarten Component District Report? What are districts expected to do with the results contained in the report?
The High-Quality Prekindergarten Component District Report was designed by TEA to inform district leaders of their status in meeting the high-quality prekindergarten components each school year and to offer support in the implementation of those components. Superintendents are encouraged to emphasize areas of high quality and areas in need of improvement with their early education staff in their ongoing efforts to meet statutory requirements and in offering a prekindergarten program of the highest quality.

2. What do the numbers in the report represent?

  • Curriculum – number of prekindergarten classes serving eligible four-year-old students using the district- adopted curriculum
  • Student Progress Monitoring – number of eligible four-year-old students assessed with a commissioner- approved instrument
  • Teacher Qualification – number of prekindergarten teachers with the identified additional qualification that serve four-year-old eligible students
  • Program Evaluation – number of prekindergarten classes serving eligible four-year-old students that implemented a program evaluation

3. What if I find the data contained within my district’s report to be inaccurate?
All districts, open-enrollment charter schools and districts of innovation that offer a prekindergarten program upload their unique data into the Early Childhood Data System (ECDS) annually; the report contains the data that was uploaded by the district. Districts are not able to correct the data after its final submission; however, they are encouraged to review their current policies and procedures about collecting and uploading the data into ECDS. Districts should ensure their early childhood program staff and PEIMS staff discuss the prekindergarten components required for submission.

4. Our district has a “-1” on the Prekindergarten Progress Monitoring page; what does that mean?
Student counts of less than five are masked with the “-1.” If your district’s report has a “-1” in one of the columns, that means that less than five students fall into that category and must be masked for FERPA compliance.

5. Why are there differences in the BOY and EOY number of students assessed in my district’s report?
Many districts experience variations in the number of eligible four-year-old students served at the beginning and end of the school year for various reasons. For example, students may move out of the district or enter into the district mid- year and miss one of the assessment windows.

1. What are the requirements related to curriculum for a prekindergarten program?
The curriculum used in a prekindergarten classroom serving eligible four-year-old students must be aligned with the 2015 Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. TEC §29.167 (a); 19 TAC §102.1003 (c)

2. May a district use a locally designed curriculum for its prekindergarten program?
Yes, a district may use a locally designed curriculum as long as the curriculum aligns with the 2015 Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. The district should have evidence of the alignment of their locally designed curriculum to the 2015 Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines.

3. I heard that a district must use a curriculum that is listed on the current Instructional Materials List; is that true?
The Instructional Materials List is developed by the State Board of Education. The curricula that are contained on the Instructional Material List have been reviewed, and it has been determined that they align with the 2015 Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. A district does not have to use a curriculum on the Instructional Materials List. Districts must, however, use a curriculum that aligns with the 2015 Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines.

4. Are there physical education requirements for prekindergarten?
Full-day prekindergarten students are required to participate in moderate or vigorous daily physical activity for at least 30 minutes throughout the school year as part of the district’s physical education curriculum or through structured activity during daily recess. Learning relates directly to mobility and motor skills, and, therefore, activities that enhance gross motor development are recommended for young students.

The 2015 Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines suggest at least 45 minutes of outdoor time in their sample full-day schedule (page 16). TEC §28.002(l)

5. Are children required to have a rest time in prekindergarten?
Policy relating to rest time for full-day prekindergarten students is determined at the local level. Rest time, if given, can be counted as part of the daily instructional minutes in full-day prekindergarten. The 2015 Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines suggest a rest time in their sample full-day schedule (page 16).

1. Is a district required to use an assessment from the commissioner’s list?
Yes, school districts, open-enrollment charter schools, and districts of innovation must use a tool that assesses the five developmental domains and is listed on the Commissioner's List of Approved Prekindergarten Assessment Instruments. The Data Tool Selection Guidance provides the list of tools for prekindergarten as well as other grades. LEA's must use one of the assessment tools from that list to submit their student progress monitoring data into ECDS. TEC §29.1532 (c); TEC §29.167 (a) (2); TEC §29.169; 19 TAC §102.1003 (c)(1) and (f) (2)

2. What if a child in our prekindergarten program will not participate in the assessments that are a part of the student progress monitoring tool we are using?
It is recommended that prekindergarten children be given adequate time to adjust to the new experience of going to school. For some students, that adjustment time takes longer. It is allowable to schedule the assessments at a time that the child will be more willing to participate. Young children may hesitate to participate in a pull-aside activity when their interests are focused on something occurring in the classroom. Teachers may want to consider one of the following strategies:

  • conducting assessments at one of the learning centers
  • changing the time of the day when the assessment is attempted
  • changing the location of where the assessment is attempted

The goal should always be on collecting authentic, accurate data and to help the child feel comfortable in the assessment process.

3. Should student progress monitoring be done with children who have a disability?
Districts should always follow the instructions and guidance on a child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP). An IEP may include instructions regarding whether it is appropriate to use the student progress monitoring tool with the child or not. At times a teacher may be instructed to conduct part of a student progress monitoring tool with a student with a disability (e.g., a child with a mobility difficulty could be assessed in all measures except those that require movement). Written instructions regarding appropriate accommodations may also be included in a child’s IEP.

4. Is it necessary for teachers to conduct student progress monitoring using more than one tool if the prekindergarten program is funded by more than one source?
Funding sources may have differing guidelines regarding student progress monitoring. It is recommended that a district review the expectations of each funding source and choose a student progress monitoring tool that meets all of the specifications of each funding source. As an example, if a prekindergarten program receives Foundation School Program (FSP) funding from the state of Texas along with Head Start funding from the federal government, the district or charter could choose to use the Children's Learning Institute CIRCLE assessment tool. It meets the expectations of both Texas and the federal government.

5. Are districts required to submit BOY, MOY, and EOY student progress monitoring data?
Districts must submit beginning-of-year (BOY) and end-of-year (EOY) student progress monitoring data for their eligible four-year-old students into ECDS. It is recommended that districts use the results of BOY, middle-of-year (MOY), and EOY student progress monitoring data to inform classroom instruction. 19 TAC §102.1003 (c) (1)

6. Where can a district or charter school get specific answers regarding the student progress monitoring tool they are using?
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) can answer questions about the expectations in statute and/or Commissioner’s rule regarding student progress monitoring. However, the best source of information regarding specific assessment tools are the publishers of the tools.

7. What are the five developmental domains that are required to be assessed in prekindergarten?
The five developmental domains include:

  • Health and wellness
  • Language and communication
  • Emergent literacy – reading
  • Emergent literacy – writing
  • Mathematics

19 TAC §102.1003 (c) (1)

8. What skills are included in health and wellness?
Health and wellness skills are those skills listed in the Social and Emotional Development and Physical Development domains of the 2015 Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines. They include the following: Self-Concept skills, Self-Regulation skills, Behavior Control, Emotional Control, Relationships with Others, and Social Awareness skills, Gross Motor Development skills, Fine-Motor Development skills, and Personal Safety and Health skills.

9. How often should student progress monitoring be done?
Formal/summative assessment should be done three times a year (BOY, MOY & EOY). The BOY and EOY data must be uploaded into the ECDS at the end of each school year. BOY and EOY data show the progress the student made within that grade level. MOY data can be used to determine whether instructional strategy changes are needed.

Informal/formative assessment is done by teachers during the daily activities of each school day as they observe how students are responding to their instruction. This informal assessment data enables the teachers to adjust their instruction immediately to meet individual students’ needs.

All assessment data, both formal and informal, should be used to inform instruction.

10. Is a district required to implement progress monitoring for 3-year-old prekindergarten students?
If a student is served in a stand-alone PK3 classroom, specific progress monitoring is not required.

Progress monitoring is required in high-quality prekindergarten classrooms. If a student is served in a mixed classroom (PK3 with PK4), where progress monitoring is required a teacher should implement progress monitoring that is developmentally appropriate for students and may adjust monitoring for 3-year-olds or exclude 3-year-old students if it is deemed developmentally inappropriate.

Student progress monitoring is a very important part of the teaching cycle and is considered a best practice with all age groups. It enables a teacher to effectively adapt the daily classroom instruction to meet the needs of their students.

11. Is a district required to submit data in ECDS for 3-year-old prekindergarten students ?
If a district conducts student progress monitoring with its eligible three-year-old students using a tool from the Commissioner’s List, the BOY and EOY data must be submitted into ECDS annually. This is true for both standalone PK3 classes and mixed PK3/PK4 classes. TEC, §29.1532

1. Does the additional teacher qualification pertain to all prekindergarten teachers?
The additional teacher qualification applies to the teacher of record in a prekindergarten classroom that includes at least one eligible four-year-old student.

2. Do districts need to provide their teachers with a mentor for 15 hours?
Districts serving eligible four-year-old students must employ prekindergarten teachers who are appropriately certified to teach early childhood (as per TEC Subchapter B, Chapter 21) and meet one of the following additional qualification options:

  • Certified + Has a Child Development Associate Credential (CDA)
  • Certified + Has a Montessori certification
  • Certified + Has taught for at least 8 years in a nationally accredited childcare program
  • Certified + Has a degree in ECE, Special Education-ECE or a non-ECE degree with 15 units of ECE-specific coursework
  • Certified + Completion of TSR-Comprehensive Program
  • Certified + Has completed 150 hours of professional development in ECE-specific topics, 75 of the 150 hours being in a mentoring/coaching relationship
  • Certified + Completes 30 hours of ECE-specific professional development annually with 15 of the 30 hours being in a mentoring/coaching relationship until 150 hours are documented

Although mentoring/coaching is only listed in two of the options listed above, mentoring/coaching is considered a best practice in early childhood. TEC §29.167 (b) (c); 19 TAC §102.1003 (d)

3. Are prekindergarten teachers who work within a charter school or district of innovation required to be certified?
Yes, all school districts, open-enrollment charter schools, and districts of innovation must employ prekindergarten teachers who are appropriately certified and meet one of the teacher qualification options referenced above if they are serving eligible four-year-old students.

TEC §29.153 (c) (c-1); TEC §12.104 (b) (3) (H); TEC §12A.004 (a) (1); TEC §29.167 (b) (c); 19 TAC §102.1003 (d)

4. When will teachers be expected to meet the additional teacher qualifications?
As of 2019, all prekindergarten teachers who teach eligible four-year-old students must meet one of the additional teacher qualification options.

5. My existing prekindergarten teacher holds valid Texas certificates in both Elementary Early Childhood Education (PK-6) and Elementary Self-Contained (PK-6). Does this meet the teacher qualifications?
No, school districts, open-enrollment charter schools, and districts of innovation serving eligible four-year-old students must employ prekindergarten teachers who are certified AND meet one additional qualification. Please refer to the list above for clarification on the additional teacher qualification options.

6. If a special education teacher serves eligible prekindergartners in a special education classroom, does the additional teacher qualification apply to that teacher?
No, it does not. The additional teacher qualifications do not apply to special education classrooms established to provide special education services. The additional teacher qualifications apply to a teacher of record serving eligible four-year-old students in a prekindergarten classroom.

7.Do the “additional qualifications” apply to the two teachers working in a co-teach classroom?
Co-teaching is a service delivery option that provides students with disabilities the special education services to which they are entitled, while ensuring that they can also access the general curriculum in the least restrictive environment. A co-teach classroom has two teachers of record. The students that are eligible for both PK4 and special education would be assigned to the general education teacher of record; this teacher must be appropriately certified and must have an “additional qualification.” The students that are ineligible for PK4, but eligible for special education services would be assigned to the special education teacher; this teacher must be appropriately certified but does not need to meet the “additional qualifications.” The special education needs of the students that have an identified disability are identified in the students’ individualized education plan (IEP) and addressed by the special education teacher.

8. I have been a prekindergarten teacher for 20 years. I have 9 hours of specific ECE coursework within my degree; I have also taught in a nationally accredited site for 3 years. Have I met the additional qualifications requirement?
No. Prekindergarten teachers serving eligible four-year-old students must be appropriately certified to teach prekindergarten and must meet one of the additional qualifications referenced above. Options cannot be combined to create another option.

9. What is considered “early childhood – specific” coursework?
Coursework that is early childhood-specific covers the age span from birth through 2nd grade. Coursework that covers the entire age span of elementary-aged students (PK-6th) is not early childhood specific coursework. This same definition applies to the professional development referenced in the “additional qualifications” options.

10. Will the Children’s Learning Institute provide documentation of completion of Texas School Ready (TSR) - Comprehensive training?
The Children’s Learning Institute should be able to provide documentation to the district or charter school upon request. For more information about Texas School Ready, please visit their website at https://texasschoolready.org/

11. Can you provide additional guidance on mentoring/coaching?
The core elements of mentoring/coaching are:

  • a one-to-one relationship between a mentor/coach and the teacher(s)
  • on-the-job support that focuses on the development of specific early childhood education knowledge, skills or practices that can be used in daily work with children
  • a shared commitment to continuous improvement to ensure positive outcomes for all children

A mentor/coach could be:

  • An early childhood expert
  • Early childhood staff from a Regional Educational Service Center (ESC)
  • An instructional coach within/outside of school district • A supervisor*
  • A principal or another leadership administrator with an early childhood background within a school district
  • A coach from an early childhood agency, such as the Children’s Learning Institute (CLI) or Texas School Ready (TSR)
  • A peer teacher who is considered an expert in early childhood education or in a specific early childhood skill or practice
  • A coach/leader/facilitator of an established professional learning community
  • A professional mentor/coach who specializes in technology-based coaching

*It is advised that a supervisor keep their mentoring/coaching role separate from their supervisory role.

Effective mentoring/coaching is implemented in a cyclical manner over a designated timeframe. The mentoring/coaching cycle includes:

  • Collaborative action planning and goal-setting
  • Learning opportunities (modeling, video reviews, research)
  • Practice (co-teaching, observations with feedback)
  • Reflection (independent and collaborative feedback)

Mentoring/coaching relationships can be implemented through a variety of methods, including but not limited to the following:

  • Face to face interactions (ongoing planned and unplanned interactions between the mentor/coach and the teacher)
  • Professional Learning Communities (ongoing planned interactions between the mentor/coach and a group of teachers that are working or learning the same knowledge, skill or practice)
  • Technology-based coaching (ongoing planned interactions between the mentor/coach and the teacher that are facilitated through some form of technology, rather than face to face interactions)
  • Hybrid or a combination of methods

12. Would meeting with teachers in a campus PLC count as “mentoring/coaching” hours?
A professional learning community (PLC) that has ongoing planned interactions between a mentor/coach and a group of teachers that is working or learning the same early childhood knowledge, skill or practice could be counted as mentoring/coaching hours. It is important that the PLC is implemented in a cyclical manner over a designated timeframe and that there is a strategic focus for each meeting.

13. With the new full-day requirement, what are some options for giving prekindergarten classroom teachers the required 45 minutes of daily planning?
Districts have several options for providing classroom teachers serving prekindergarten students a 30-minute duty-free lunch and at least 45 minutes for planning and preparation within the instructional day. Some of these options could include:

  • Participation of the prekindergarten students in “specials” conducted during the school day. “Specials” could include PE, music, art, or time spent in the library. During these time periods, prekindergarten students could be supervised and receive instruction by an appropriately certified teacher other than the teacher of record.
  • Rotation of supervisory responsibilities between appropriately certified teachers and/or educators, which may include educational aides (e.g., for recess or lunch). The expectation is that instruction is continuing during these time periods.
  • Supervision and instruction conducted by a paraprofessional who is, at a minimum, appropriately certified as an Educational Aide I, II or III (https://tea.texas.gov/texas-educators/certification/initial-certification/becoming-an- educational-aide-in-texas) It is recommended that districts have policies in place to identify the timeframes and circumstances when it is allowable for students to be instructed without the direct supervision of their teachers of record. Please see TEC §5.001, TEC §21.003, TEC §21.404 and TEC §21.405(a).

14. If a district is anticipating hiring a PK-certified teacher, does the teacher have to have the first 30 hours of PD, including 15 hours of mentoring/coaching, completed before the teacher can be hired?
No. The newly hired prekindergarten teacher serving eligible four-year-old students must complete their first 30 hours of PD (including 15 hours of mentoring/coaching) before the district submits its annual data into the Early Childhood Data System (ECDS) in early summer.

1. How do you define “attempt” in connection with teacher-to-student ratios?
In meeting this high-quality component, districts should implement and document their continuous efforts in maintaining the 1:11 ratio until it is achieved. TEC §29.167 (d); 19 TAC §102.1003 (h)(i)

2. What qualifications must a teacher aide meet?
There are certifications for which a teacher aide may apply. In order to apply, the teacher aide must first be employed by a school district. Teacher aides are encouraged to contact their employing school district for application instructions and to confirm they meet any additional requirements established by the district prior to being issued an educational aide certificate. For Educational Aide I , Educational Aide II, and Educational Aide III requirements, please visit https://tea.texas.gov/Texas_Educators/Certification/Initial_Certification/Becoming_an_Educational_Aide_in_Texas/

1. When is the Family Engagement Plan due?
In implementing the high-quality prekindergarten components, districts must have a written Family Engagement Plan containing the six required components and should be in the process of implementing the plan beginning on September 1, 2019. The URL for the actual HQPK Family Engagement Plan document or for the webpage where the HQPK Family Engagement Plan is posted must be submitted to TEA within the ECDS each year. TEC §29.168; 19 TAC §102.1003 (e)

2. Should the Family Engagement Plan be a district document, or can it be relevant to just one campus?
Districts must write and implement a Family Engagement Plan associated with the district's prekindergarten program. A district should have one document that covers the whole district. Campus-level modifications within a district may be made to suit the needs of each prekindergarten program. The Family Engagement Plan URL associated with the entire district for the actual HQPK Family Engagement Plan document or for the webpage where the HQPK Family Engagement Plan is posted must be submitted to TEA within ECDS.

3. What information must the Family Engagement Plan contain?
The written Family Engagement Plan must contain information on how the district is achieving and maintaining high levels of family involvement and positive family attitudes toward education through the following six components:

  • Facilitating family-to-family support
  • Establishing a network of community resources
  • Increasing family participation in decision-making
  • Equipping families with tools to enhance and extend learning
  • Developing staff skills in evidence-based practices that support families in meeting their children’s learning benchmarks
  • Evaluating family engagement efforts and using evaluations for continuous improvement

TEC §29.168; 19 TAC §102.1003 (e)

4. How can a district make their Family Engagement Plan available for families of students and community stakeholders?
The Family Engagement Plan must be made available on the district’s or campus’s website. TEC §29.168; 19 TAC §102.1003 (e)

5. Our district already has a document that addresses how to encourage family involvement. Can we use that document to comply with this high-quality component?
Often districts/charter schools already have a written document that describes their approach to working with the families of the students they serve. This is especially true if a district receives Title 1 funds or is in partnership with a Head Start grantee. It might be possible to use that existing document as the Family Engagement Plan if:

  • the existing document contains the six expected components;
  • the activities listed in the document are implemented in the prekindergarten program; and
  • the document is available on the web.

1. Is there a program evaluation tool that is required for districts to use in meeting this requirement?
No. TEA has developed the Early Childhood Program Self-Assessment and the Early Childhood Program Self-Assessment Guide to assist district-level personnel in meeting this high-quality requirement, but LEAs are able to determine which program evaluation tool they want to use. At minimum, districts must use student progress monitoring data to evaluate their program.

TEC §29.169 (a); 19 TAC §102.1003 (g)

2. What methods could a district use in giving families the results of the prekindergarten program evaluation?
There are a variety of ways districts could inform families of the results of the program evaluation, including the following: using the web; sending home a written report; or hosting a meeting to discuss the results. Districts should document how the results of the prekindergarten program evaluation are communicated with families.

3. How often should a prekindergarten program evaluation be done?
Program evaluations should be done annually.

K-2nd Grade Program FAQ

Click on a topic below to see the related questions and answers.

May a district serve prekindergarten and kindergarten students in the same classroom?
Yes, students of both grade levels may be served in the same class. Keep in mind that such a program must meet program requirements (e.g. high-quality prekindergarten components) and provide instruction for all of the students, that is grade level appropriate and aligned with the appropriate grade-level expectations (e.g. Pre-k Guidelines or Kindergarten TEKS).

K-2 Enrollment

May a child younger than five years of age enter kindergarten?
A student younger than five years of age is entitled to the benefits of the Foundation School Program if: (1) the student performs satisfactorily on the assessment instrument administered under TEC Section 39.023(a) to students in the third grade; and (2) the district has adopted a policy for admitting students younger than five years of age. TEC §48.003(d)

See more information about parental options for kindergarten on the TEA guidance page or guidance table document.

1. When does Senate Bill (SB) 1697 go into effect?
SB 1697 became effective on June 15, 2021.

2. What does SB 1697 do?
SB 1697 established new Texas Education Code (TEC), §28.02124, Parental Option for Student Retention, which allows parents or guardians to opt to have their child—

  • repeat kindergarten;
  • enroll in kindergarten if the child would have enrolled in kindergarten in the previous school year and has not yet enrolled in first grade;
  • for grades one through three, repeat the grade the student was enrolled in the previous school year;

3. How do parents or guardians elect for their child to retake a grade or course?
Parents or guardians are required to notify the school district or charter school in writing that they elect for their child to retake a grade level or course.

4. Can a district refuse to allow a student to retake a grade level or course after a parent has made the request?
A school district or charter school may disagree with a parent who elects to have their child retake a grade level or course. If a district or charter school disagrees, the district or charter school must convene a retention committee and meet with the parent or guardian to discuss the retention. The retention committee will discuss the merits of and concerns about advancement or retention and review and consider the following:

  • Student's grade in each subject or course
  • Results of any formative or summative assessments administered to the student
  • Any other available academic information to determine the student's academic readiness for the next grade or a given course

After the parent/guardian has participated in the retention committee meeting, the parent will decide if the student will be retained. The district or charter school is required to abide by the parent’s or guardian’s decision.

5. Who is required to serve on a retention committee?
The retention committee must be comprised of the following:

  • Principal or the principal’s designee
  • Student’s parent or guardian
  • Teacher who taught the grade or course for which the parent wants the student to retake or be retained
  • Additional teachers at the discretion of the principal, if the student will repeat multiple courses.

6. Does SB 1697 apply to charter schools?
Yes, the legislation applies to both open-enrollment charter schools and school districts.

7. Is a district required to assign grades to a student who is repeating a course or grade level at the request of the parent?
Yes. TEC, §28.022, requires a district, at least once every 12 weeks, to give written notice to a parent of a student's performance in each class or subject. Additionally, for courses in the foundation curriculum, a district must give written notice to a parent or legal guardian of a student's performance at least once every three weeks or during the fourth week of each nine-week grading period if the student's performance in the subject is consistently unsatisfactory. District and charter schools may, in accordance with local policy, assign a pass/fail grade in lieu of a numeric grade.

8. Does SB 1697 apply for the 2021-2022 school year only?
The provisions of the legislation that permit parents to elect for students enrolled in prekindergarten through grade 3 to be retained in the grade level has no expiration date.

9. Can a charter school deny a parent’s request for retention if the request is submitted after the enrollment lottery and all seats at that child’s current grade level are already filled?
No, the charter school must allow for the retention of that child at their current grade level. For the 2021-2022 school year, TEA will hold harmless any charter that exceeds its required student-teacher ratio because it was implementing the provisions of SB 1697. In future school years, charter schools should account for any potential increases in student-teacher ratio through their admissions and enrollment processes.

10. If a parent enrolls a child at a charter school they have not previously attended and subsequently requests that the child repeat the previous grade, is the charter school required to honor the request if the charter school does not have the previous grade as an approved grade level?
No, if the charter school does not have the previous grade as an approved grade level, the charter school cannot honor the parent’s request for retention. For example, if a parent enrolls a child in kindergarten at a charter school and subsequently decides to retain the child in prekindergarten, the school cannot honor the retention request if the charter school does not have prekindergarten as an approved grade level. A charter that provides educational services to a student in an unapproved grade level is in material violation of its charter contract.

11. If a parent is considering retention for their child and applying for a seat at a charter school during the open enrollment period, can the parent request that the child’s name be placed in the lottery at both the current and next year’s grade level?
No, a student may only apply for one enrollment seat at a charter school. However, if the parent has already decided to retain their child, they may apply for the seat at the child’s current grade level.

12. Can a charter school leave some enrollment seats open at each grade level after the enrollment lottery is conducted to anticipate possible retention requests, or must a charter fill all of its seats?
A charter school may choose to leave some seats unfilled after the lottery is conducted to ensure that seats are available for any possible retention requests.