Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
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Attendance and Enrollment
1. How is compulsory school attendance defined?
Florida Law (Section 1003.21, Florida Statutes) states that all children who are either six years of age, who will be six years old by February 1 of any school year, or who are older than six years of age but who have not attained the age of 16 years, must attend school regularly during the entire school term. A student who attains the age of 16 years during the school year is not subject to compulsory attendance beyond the date of which the student attains that age if he/she files a formal declaration of intent to terminate school enrollment with the school district.
2. Does Florida law specify an age requirement for admission into a public school first grade?
No. However, Florida law does specify that all children who have attained the age of six years or who will have attained the age of six years by February 1 of any school year are required to attend school regularly during the entire school term. (Section 1003.21(1)(a)1, Florida Statutes). Although Florida law does not provide a specific age requirement for enrollment to public first grade, the provisions of Florida law related to kindergarten admission and student progression dictate that first grade enrollment be limited to (1) students who turn six years old on or before September 1 who have successfully completed kindergarten; and (2) out-of-state students who turn six years old after September 1 who meet the age requirement for public kindergarten admission from the transferring state, and who have successfully completed kindergarten.
3. Is a student over age 16 allowed to quit school without parent permission?
No. When a student reaches 16 years of age he/she is no longer required to attend school if he/she files the required formal declaration of intent to terminate school enrollment with the school district and the declaration is signed by the parent. The declaration must acknowledge that leaving school will likely reduce the student's earning potential. The school district is required to notify the child's parent or legal guardian that the student has filed a declaration of intent to leave school.
4. How is a truant defined?
Florida law defines "habitual truant" as a student who has 15 or more unexcused absences within 90 calendar days with or without the knowledge or consent of the student's parent or guardian, and who is subject to compulsory school attendance.
5. How do school districts determine if an absence is excused or unexcused?
Florida law requires local school districts to determine the meaning and conditions associated with excused absences, unexcused absences, and tardiness. In part, the statute requires each district school board to establish an attendance policy that includes the number of days a student must be in attendance per year and to determine whether an absence or tardy is excused or unexcused according to criteria established by the district school board.
6. Is there an exception made for absence due to illness?
When a student is continually sick and repeatedly absent from school, the student must be under the supervision of a doctor in order to receive an excuse. The doctor's statement should confirm that the student's condition requires absence for more than the number of days permitted by the district school board policy.
7. How are schools required to enforce regular school attendance?
Florida law (Section 1003.26, Florida Statutes) specifies steps for enforcement of regular school attendance. It is the responsibility of the school district superintendent to enforce school attendance of all children who are subject to compulsory school age requirements. The responsibility includes:
- Develop policies and procedures to ensure that schools respond in a timely manner to each unexcused absence, or absence for which the reason is unknown.
- Contact the home for every unexcused absence or absence for which the reason is unknown, to obtain parent justification for the absence.
- Evaluate each justification and, based on district policy, determine whether the absence is excused or unexcused; if excused, allow the student to make up assigned work without academic penalty.
- Track excused and unexcused absences.
- Identify and refer students who may be developing a pattern of nonattendance to the school child study team for intervention services.
- Schedule a meeting with certain identified parents to discuss their child's attendance.
- Implement prevention and intervention strategies to address truancy and attendance issues as required for drivers' licenses and related requirements for habitual truants.
- Send a notice to the superintendent of schools and to the district home education contact regarding patterns of nonattendance for specific students.
- Refer habitual truancy cases to the case staffing committee and/or child-in-need- of-services provider for assistance.
8. What is the minimum attendance requirement for awarding course credit?
Florida law (Section 1003.436, Florida Statute) defines a full credit as a minimum 135 hours of bona fide instruction in a designated course of study. This language, which is related to high school graduation, represents an instructional design and should not be interpreted to mean that a student who is in attendance for fewer than 135 actual hours of instruction should automatically be denied credit for a course. However, state law does not prohibit school district boards from imposing an academic penalty related to student attendance.
9. How are schools using the driver license/school attendance program to encourage attendance?
Florida law (Section 1003.27, Florida Statutes) requires each school principal or designee to notify the district school board of each minor student accumulating 15 unexcused absences in a period of 90 calendar days or who drop out of school. The district school superintendent must provide the names and identifying information of these students to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). DHSMV may not issue a driver license or learner permit, or may suspend the driving privileges of any reported student until the student has satisfied regular school attendance requirements as outlined in Section 322.091, Florida Statutes.
10. Are a significant number of high school students actually losing their drivers' licenses as a result of too many absences from school?
The driver license/school attendance program appears to have a positive impact. Students reported for non-compliance with attendance requirements are returning to school and improving their attendance. All 67 school districts are transmitting data to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. During the 2004-2005 school year:
- 11,325 students received Notices of Intent to Suspend Driving Privileges
- 12,968 Notices of Intent to Suspend Driving Privileges were deleted
- 35,147 unlicensed drivers received notices that they were not eligible to apply and receive a driver's license
- 28,619 Non-Compliance orders were deleted
- 10,001 students received Suspension Orders
- 10,156 Suspension Orders were deleted
- Four percent of students who received a first suspension for excessive absences received a second suspension.
11. Does compulsory school attendance apply to Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK)?
No. Florida's Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) Program has a separate set of enrollment and attendance requirements, which are not included under the authority of public K-12 compulsory school attendance laws. VPK is the result of a 2002 constitutional amendment, which required a voluntary prekindergarten program for all four-year-old children in Florida by fall 2005. In January 2005, Governor Bush signed a VPK Program bill into law designed to prepare four-year-olds for successful entry into kindergarten. The law allows a parent to voluntarily enroll an eligible child (four years old by September 1 and residing in Florida) in a free VPK program beginning in August or September of the 2005-2006 school year. The first summer VPK program will be offered in 2006. For information regarding registration and VPK Programs in your area, please visit Florida's Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) Program website at http://www.vpkflorida.org.
12. What are the requirements for Florida public school kindergarten admission?
Florida law (Section 1003.21(1)(a)2, Florida Statutes) specifies that children who have attained the age of five years on or before September 1 of the school year are eligible for admission to public kindergarten during that school year based on rules prescribed by the school board. Students are eligible for kindergarten attendance provided they meet the age requirement.
13. If a child turns five years old after September 1, can a waiver be obtained from the Florida Department of Education to allow him to attend kindergarten?
No. Florida Statutes or State Board of Education Rules do not include any provision to waive the age requirement for kindergarten enrollment.
14. Can a child whose birth date is after September 1 who has completed a Florida nonpublic school kindergarten program be admitted into a Florida public school first grade?
No. A child who has satisfactorily completed the requirements for a nonpublic kindergarten from which the district accepts transfer of academic credit, but who does not turn six on or before September 1 of the school year, would be admitted into kindergarten and progress according to the district's student progression plan. (Section 1003.21(1)(b), Florida Statutes). We recommend that the parent(s) contact the director of elementary education at the local school district to address concerns regarding progression and available curricula.
15. Is it possible for a student who is enrolled in an out-of-state kindergarten or first grade program and who does not meet Florida's admission age requirements, to transfer and attend kindergarten or first grade in a Florida public school?
Yes. Any student who transfers from an out-of-state public school, and who does not meet regular age requirements for admission to Florida public schools, will be admitted to kindergarten or first grade when certain data are presented. A student who transfers from an out-of-state nonpublic school and who does not meet regular age requirements for admission to Florida public schools, may be admitted if he or she meets the age requirements for the public schools in the state from which he is transferring, and if the transfer of the student's academic credit is acceptable under the rules of the school board.
If a student is transferring from an out-of-state public or nonpublic school, the parents must provide the following data to the school district prior to admission:
- official documentation that the parent(s) or guardian(s) was a legal resident of the state in which the child was previously enrolled in school
- an official letter or transcript from proper school authority which shows record of attendance, academic information, and grade placement of the student
- evidence of immunization against communicable diseases as required in Section 1003.22, Florida Statutes
- evidence of a medical examination completed within the last twelve (12) months in accordance with Section 1003.22, Florida Statutes.(Rule 6A-1.0985(1), Entry into Kindergarten and First Grade by Out-of-State Transfer Students, Florida Administrative Code)
16. What information is required in order to enroll a student in a Florida public school?
The following information is required to enroll a student in a Florida school:
- Proof of age. A certified birth certificate for US citizens may be requested online at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/howto/w2w/w2welcom.htm. If a birth certificate is not available refer to 1003.21, FS, for other acceptable documentation.
- A Florida Certificate of Immunization, Form 680 (blue card), completed by a Florida physician or by a Florida county health department. Parents should obtain a copy of their child's complete immunization history before leaving their current residence, as this form is not available to the general public. Information on Florida school immunization requirements is available at http://www.doh.state.fl.us/Family/school/parent/parent_info.html.
- Evidence of a medical exam completed no less than 12 months prior to the child's school entry date. As long as the medical exam meets this 12-month requirement, parents may submit this information on the School-Entry Health Exam Form (DH 3040) or provide a copy of the exam obtained from their current physician before moving to Florida. This form and the accompanying guide are available online at http://www.doh.state.fl.us/chdcollier/pdf/School_Entry_Exam_06_02.pdf (PDF).
- Official documentation that the parent(s) or guardian(s) is a legal resident(s) of the school district attendance area.
17. Can a child who has completed a Florida nonpublic school kindergarten program but whose birthdate (turning six years of age) is after September 1 be admitted into a Florida public school first grade?
No. A child who has satisfactorily completed the requirements for a nonpublic kindergarten from which the district accepts transfer of academic credit, but who does not turn six on or before September 1 of the school year, would be admitted into kindergarten and progress according to the district's student progression plan. (Section 1003.21(1) (b), Florida Statutes). We recommend that the parent(s) contact the director of elementary education at the local school district to address concerns regarding progression and available curricula.
18. How can I obtain information on individual school districts?
For information on a directory of schools and selecting schools, please visit http://www.fldoe.org. From the shortcut key Site Index, select the link School Information and then choose the category Directories.
19. When did the kindergarten cut-off date change to September 1?
The Florida Legislature amended Section 232.04, Florida Statures in 1979 to provide changes in the birth date requirements for public school kindergarten admission. The required birth date was transitioned over the following three-year period from December 1 to September 1.
- For the school year 1980, the child must have attained the age of 5 on or before December 1, 1980
- For the school year 1981, the child must have attained the age of 5 on or before November 1, 1981
- For the school year 1982, the child must have attained the age of 5 on or before October 1, 1982
- For the school year 1983 and thereafter, the child must have attained the age of 5 on or before September 1, 1983
20. Is there a set number of hours per day a child must attend a public kindergarten program?
Florida law specifies that in order for a public kindergarten student to be considered a full-time student, he or she must receive a minimum of 720 net hours of instruction or four hours per day, based on 180 school days [Section 1011.61, Definition, Florida Statutes]. Florida school districts may offer a full day of instruction to kindergarten students and the decision to do so is locally approved by each district school board.
21. Is kindergarten attendance required for a child that turns five before September 1?
No. A parent that chooses not to enroll their child in kindergarten is not in violation of compulsory school attendance laws. However, Florida law, [Section 1003.21 (1)(a), Florida Statutes], specifies that all children who have attained the age of six years or who will have attained the age of 6 years by February 1 of any school year are required to attend school regularly during the entire school term. If a child enters public school at age 6 without evidence of kindergarten completion of an official transcript, then they will be placed in the first program of study, and that is kindergarten. The child will progress according to the district's student progression plan.
22. What does a child need to know before entering kindergarten?
Admission to a public kindergarten is not contingent upon what a child knows; if the child meets the age requirement, he or she is eligible for admission. The Florida Partnership for School Readiness has published "Performance Standards" for 3, 4, and 5 year olds. Those standards reflect what children should know and be able to do. You may access that information and other resources from the Partnership's website. In addition, the Sunshine State Standards provide expectations for student achievement in Florida. These were written in seven subject areas, each divided into four separate grade clusters (PreK-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12)
23. What are the age requirements and compulsory school attendance requirements for kindergarten admission in other states?
Age and compulsory school attendance requirements for kindergarten admission vary from state to state. For the 50 states, District of Columbia and three U.S. territories (American Samoa, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands)
- Sixteen states set the lower compulsory attendance age at 7; 23 states and one territory set the age at 6; and eight states, the District of Columbia and two territories set the age at 5. Two states specify that students must attend after age 8.
- Cut-off dates on the entrance age range with 28 states (including Florida) and one territory setting a date in September; eight states setting a date in August; three states setting a date in October; two states, the District of Columbia, and one territory set a date in December; two states set a date in January; and six states leave the date to the option of the local education agency. The Education Commission of the States provides, State Characteristics: Kindergarten (December 2010), a report outlining each state's kindergarten entrance requirements. To view this information, visit http://www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/90/71/9071.pdf (PDF).
1. Where can I find correspondence sent from the DOE?
On the Paperless Communications page, you can either sign up to receive all memoranda sent through the paperless system or search the paperless communication archives.
For a list of bureaus and services, along with links to their websites, please visit the Office Directory. You might also try a keyword search on the Florida Department of Education homepage.
2. Where can I find information about ESE programs?
Information about ESE programs can be found by visiting the Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services. This website is an excellent resource for those seeking information on ESE program monitoring, ESE program evaluation, and ESE program development and services. Contact information is also available on this website should you desire to speak to one of our ESE specialists.
3. How can I become a teacher in Florida?
An excellent resource for prospective Florida educators is Florida's official teacher recruitment and professional development web site located at www.TeachinFlorida.com. There you can search for teaching positions, post your resume for Florida districts to review, access district web sites, and review a wealth of additional information to assist you as both a job seeker and an educator.
You will need to be certified to teach in Florida's public schools and in many private schools. For comprehensive information on Florida educator certification, please visit the Bureau of Educator Certification's official web site at www.fldoe.org/edcert. From the main menu select the option that best describes you for applications, resources, and information to assist you in seeking Florida educator certification.
4. Where can I find information about my child's teacher?
You can review all valid Florida Educator Certificates held by your child's teacher by visiting our Educator Certification website and clicking on Certificate Lookup. Enter the teacher's first and last name, and all currently valid certificates issued under that name will be displayed. If your child's teacher has a common name, such as Mary Smith, you will need to contact your school district office to assist you in identifying the certificates held by your child's teacher. Also, see Florida's Public School Districts.
5. Where can I get information about the FCAT?
The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) is part of Florida's effort to improve the teaching and learning of higher educational standards. The primary purpose of the FCAT is to assess student achievement of the high-order cognitive skills represented in the Sunshine State Standards (SSS) in Reading, Writing, Mathematics, and Science.