EHBG(LEGAL) - SPECIAL PROGRAMS: PREKINDERGARTEN
Note: Only districts that identify 15 or more eligible students are required to provide prekindergarten programs.
A district shall offer prekindergarten classes if it identifies 15 or more eligible students who are at least four years of age. A district may offer prekindergarten if it identifies 15 or more eligible children who are at least three years of age.
A district may not charge tuition for a prekindergarten program offered under these provisions.
In this section:
- "Child" includes a stepchild.
- "Parent" includes a stepparent.
A child is eligible for enrollment in free prekindergarten if the child is at least three years of age and:
- Is unable to speak and comprehend the English language;
- Is educationally disadvantaged;
- Is homeless [see FD] 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;
- 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 ever has been in the conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services following an adversary hearing under Family Code 262.201; or
- Is the child of a person eligible for the Star of Texas Award as:
- A peace officer under Government Code 3106.002;
- A firefighter under Government Code 3106.003; or
- An emergency medical first responder under Government Code 3106.004.
A child who is eligible for enrollment for free prekindergarten at the age of three and enrolls in prekindergarten class at the age of three remains eligible for enrollment in a prekindergarten class for the following school year.
A child who is eligible for enrollment under item 4 or 5 above remains eligible if the child's parent leaves the armed forces, or is no longer on active duty, after the child begins the prekindergarten class.
Education Code 29.153(a)–(b), (f)–(g)
A district shall develop a system to notify the population in the district with children who are eligible for enrollment in a free prekindergarten program of the availability of the program. The system must include public notices issued in English and Spanish. Education Code 29.153(e)
Half-Day or Full-Day
A free prekindergarten class may be operated on a half-day basis for children under four years of age and shall be operated on a full-day basis for children who are at least four years of age.
A district is not required to provide transportation for a prekindergarten class. If transportation is provided, it is included for funding purposes as part of the regular transportation system.
Education Code 29.153(c)
High-Quality Prekindergarten Required
A free prekindergarten class for children who are least four years of age must comply with the program standards required for high-quality prekindergarten programs under Education Code Chapter 29, Subchapter E-1. [See High-Quality Prekindergarten Program, below]
The commissioner of education shall exempt a district from the application of all or any part of Education Code 29.153, including all or any part of the required high-quality prekindergarten program requirements, if the commissioner determines that:
- The district would be required to construct classroom facilities in order to provide prekindergarten classes; or
- Implementing any part of this section would result in fewer eligible children being enrolled in a prekindergarten class under this section.
An exemption may not be granted for a period longer than three school years and may be renewed only once.
Education Code 29.153(c-1)–(d-2)
Constructing, Repurposing, or Leasing a Facility
Before a district may construct, repurpose, or lease a classroom facility, or issue bonds for the construction or repurposing of a classroom facility, to provide the prekindergarten classes required under Education Code 29.153, the district must solicit and consider proposals for partnerships to provide those classes with community-based child-care providers who:
- Are a Texas Rising Star Program provider with a three-star certification or higher;
- Are nationally accredited;
- Are a Head Start program provider;
- Are a Texas School Ready! participant; or
- Meet the requirements under Education Code 29.1532.
Education Code 29.153(g)
Tuition-Supported or District-Financed
A district may offer on a tuition basis or use district funds to provide:
- An additional half-day of prekindergarten classes to children eligible for free prekindergarten who are under four years of age; and
- Half-day and full-day prekindergarten classes to children not eligible for free prekindergarten.
A district may not adopt a tuition rate that is higher than necessary to cover the added costs of the program, including any costs associated with collecting, reporting, and analyzing data under Education Code 29.1532(c) (PEIMS data for prekindergarten programs). A district must submit its proposed tuition rate to the commissioner for approval.
Education Code 29.1531
A district's prekindergarten program shall be designed to develop skills necessary for success in the regular public school curriculum, including language, mathematics, and social skills. Education Code 29.1532(a)
Before establishing a new prekindergarten program, a district shall consider the possibility of sharing use of an existing Head Start or other child-care program site as a prekindergarten site. Education Code 29.1533
Prekindergarten Licensing Standards
If a district contracts with a private entity to operate a prekindergarten program, the program shall comply at a minimum with the applicable child-care licensing standards adopted by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services under Human Resources Code 42.042. Education Code 29.1532(b)
Daily Physical Activity
A district shall require students in full-day prekindergarten 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 program or through structured activity during a campus's daily recess.
To the extent practicable, a district shall require a student enrolled in prekindergarten on less than a full-day basis to participate in the same type and amount of physical activity as a student enrolled in full-day prekindergarten.
If a district determines, for any particular grade level, that requiring moderate or vigorous daily physical activity is impractical due to scheduling concerns or other factors, the district may as an alternative require a student in that grade level to participate in moderate or vigorous physical activity for at least 135 minutes during each school week.
A district must provide an exemption for a student who is unable to participate in the required physical activity because of illness or disability.
Education Code 28.002(l)
High-Quality Prekindergarten Program
"Program" means a high quality prekindergarten program for eligible children who are at least four years of age required to be provided free of tuition or fees.
A district shall select and implement a curriculum for a prekindergarten program that:
- Includes the prekindergarten guidelines established by the Texas Education Agency (TEA);
- Measures the progress of students in meeting the recommended learning outcomes; and
- Does not use national curriculum standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
Education Code 29.164, .167(a)
Each teacher for a prekindergarten program class must be certified under Education Code Chapter 21, Subchapter B and have one of the following additional qualifications:
- A Child Development Associate (CDA) credential or another early childhood education credential approved by TEA;
- Certification offered through a training center accredited by Association Montessori Internationale or through the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education;
- At least eight years' experience of teaching in a nationally accredited child-care program;
- Be employed as a prekindergarten teacher in a district that has received approval from the commissioner for the district's prekindergarten-specific instructional training plan that the teacher uses in the teacher's prekindergarten classroom; or
- An equivalent qualification.
A district may allow a teacher employed by the district to receive the training required to be awarded a CDA credential from a regional education service center. Training may not include national curriculum standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
A district must attempt to maintain an average ratio in any prekindergarten program class of not less than one certified teacher or teacher's aide for each 11 students.
Education Code 29.167
Family Engagement Plan
A district shall develop and implement a family engagement plan to assist the district in achieving and maintaining high levels of family involvement and positive family attitudes toward education. The family engagement plan must be based on family engagement strategies established by TEA. Education Code 29.168(a)
A district shall:
- Select and implement appropriate methods for evaluating the district's program classes by measuring student progress; and
- Make data from the results of program evaluations available to parents.
A district may administer diagnostic assessments to students in a program class to evaluate student progress but may not administer a state standardized assessment instrument.
An assessment instrument administered to a prekindergarten program class must be selected from a list of appropriate prekindergarten assessment instruments identified by the commissioner.
Education Code 29.169
Eligible Private Providers
A district that offers a high-quality prekindergarten program may enter into a contract with an eligible private provider to provide services or equipment for the program.
To be eligible to contract with a district to provide a program or part of a program, a private provider must be licensed by and in good standing with the Department of Family and Protective Services. A private provider is in good standing with the Department of Family and Protective Services if the department has not taken an action against the provider's license during the 24-month period preceding the date of a contract with a district. The private provider must also:
- Be accredited by a research-based, nationally recognized, and universally accessible accreditation system approved by the commissioner;
- Be a Texas Rising Star Program provider with a three-star certification or higher;
- Be a Texas School Ready! participant;
- Have an existing partnership with a district to provide a prekindergarten program not provided under Subchapter E-1; or
- Be accredited by an organization that is recognized by the Texas Private School Accreditation Commission.
A prekindergarten program provided by a private provider under Education Code 29.171 is subject to the requirements of Education Code Chapter 29, Subchapter E-1.
Education Code 29.171
Prekindergarten Expansion Grant
A district may use funds from grants administered by the commissioner to expand an existing half-day prekindergarten program to a full-day basis or to implement a prekindergarten program on a campus that does not have a prekindergarten program.
A district may use funds received under this program to employ teachers and other personnel for a prekindergarten program or to acquire curriculum materials or equipment, including computers, for use in prekindergarten programs.
A district may use funds granted under this program in contracting with another entity, including a private entity.
Education Code 29.155(a), (b), (i)
Ready to Read Grant
A district that operates a prekindergarten program is eligible to apply for a Ready to Read grant if at least 75 percent of the children enrolled in the program are low-income students, as determined by commissioner rule.
Grants shall be used to provide scientific, research-based pre-reading instruction for the purpose of directly improving pre-reading skills and for identifying cost-effective models for pre-reading intervention. Grants funds shall be used for:
- Professional staff development in pre-reading instruction;
- Pre-reading curriculum and materials;
- Pre-reading skills assessment materials; and
- Employment of pre-reading instructors.
Education Code 29.157(b), (c)
Statewide Information Referral Network
A district shall provide the Texas Information and Referral Network with information regarding eligibility for and availability of child-care and education services for inclusion in the statewide information referral network. A district shall provide the information in a form determined by the executive commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Gov't Code 531.0312
"Child-care and education services" includes child-care and education services provided by a district through a prekindergarten or after-school program. Gov't Code 531.03131(a)
Staff of the Texas Information and Referral Network shall send an electronic mail message to each appropriate entity containing the name of and contact information for each applicant and a description of the services for which the applicant is applying.
On receipt of such an electronic mail message, a district shall contact the applicant to verify information regarding the applicant's eligibility for available child-care and education services. On certifying eligibility, a district shall match the applicant with entities providing those services in the applicant's community, including local workforce development boards, local child-care providers, or a Head Start or Early Head Start program provider.
A district shall cooperate with the Texas Information and Referral Network as necessary in the administration of this project.
Gov't Code 531.0312(c)–(e)