§ 4.20. Prekindergarten education.

 School districts are not required to offer a prekindergarten program, and parents are not required to enroll their children in those programs if offered. Prekindergarten programs shall be designed so that students complete the program prior to their reaching the school district’s entry age for kindergarten. The program, when offered, must provide a comprehensive program appropriate for the age and varying developmental levels of the students; be based on how young children develop and learn; include instruction to support each child’s development in the areas of approaches to learning—creative expression, language and literacy, math, logic and science, social-personal development and physical development and health—and must be open to children with disabilities.

   (1)  The Secretary will provide academic standards, appropriate for early learning at the prekindergarten level, as guidance for the use of school districts that offer prekindergarten programs.

   (2)  Curriculum and instruction in the prekindergarten program must be standards-based.

   (3)  Prekindergarten programs may be offered to all 3 and 4 year olds or may be targeted to children who are most in need of prekindergarten services who reside in the district. Targeted programs may serve children who are at risk of school failure because of limited English proficiency, community factors, economic disadvantage, but may not exclude or be limited exclusively to children with disabilities. If a program is limited to an attendance area, children with disabilities must live in that attendance area to participate in the program. An attendance area is the geographic area within a school district designated by the school board for the purpose of assigning students to a school.

   (4)  The Secretary will issue guidance to school districts on developmentally appropriate curriculum, instruction and assessments for prekindergarten.

   (5)  Each school district that provides prekindergarten shall design an assessment system that includes prekindergarten and uses a variety of assessment strategies, which may include those listed in §  4.52(b) (relating to local assessment system), as appropriate.

   (6)  Prekindergarten programs must have a student/teacher ratio of no more than 20 students for one teacher and one teacher aide in a classroom (2 adults in a classroom for every 20 students). Programs of high quality ordinarily have a student/teacher ratio of 17 students for one teacher and one teacher aide in a classroom (2 adults for every 17 students). Programs operating under contract with community providers must comply with staffing qualifications as required by §  49.85(e) (relating to limitations).

   (7)  Beginning in the 2009-2010 school year, a teacher aide in a prekindergarten program shall meet one of the following criteria:

     (i)   Completion of at least 2 years of postsecondary study.

     (ii)   Possession of an associate’s degree or higher.

     (iii)   Ability to meet a rigorous standard of quality and demonstration through a formal State or local academic assessment of knowledge in and ability to assist in instructing reading, writing and mathematics. A rigorous standard of quality includes a demonstration of competence in basic literacy skills, including the ability to speak and write standard English and instruction of prekindergarten students in the acquisition of the knowledge, skills and abilities described in the early learning standards issued under paragraph (1).

   (8)  The Secretary may approve a meritorious prekindergarten program that does not meet all regulatory requirements for the program when, in the Secretary’s judgment, the program provides high quality learning opportunities for students and meets the following conditions:

     (i)   The school district has submitted to the Secretary a written request that provides justification for the waiver and includes a description of how the meritorious program will provide high quality learning opportunities for students.

     (ii)   The approval of the meritorious prekindergarten program is valid only for 1 school year.

     (iii)   Requests for renewals include evidence of positive student outcomes.

   (9)  A school district may make individual exceptions to the age of prekindergarten students based upon local policy to permit the enrollment of children under 3 years of age and 5 years of age or older.

   (10)  A school district planning to offer or contract with a community agency to offer a prekindergarten program shall develop an implementation plan that describes the program and its target population. The plan must identify the facilities, staffing needs and other resources that it will use to deliver the program. The school district shall consult with parents, community agencies and organizations, and child care, early intervention and head start representatives when developing the implementation plan. In years subsequent to the initial year of the program, the implementation plan must be submitted to the Department every 3 years or when the plan is amended, whichever is sooner. A school district shall make the implementation plan available for public inspection and comment for a minimum of 28 days prior to approval of the plan by the school district’s board of directors and submission of the plan to the Department.

   (11)  School district contracted prekindergarten programs operated by a community provider shall provide a lead teacher for each classroom who meets the following minimum qualifications:

     (i)   An associate’s degree or greater in early childhood education or child development.

     (ii)   For programs operating before December 16, 2006, lead teachers shall possess a bachelor’s degree and early childhood certificate as provided in §  49.85(a) on or before December 16, 2011.

     (iii)   For programs contracted after December 16, 2006, lead teachers shall possess a bachelor’s degree and early childhood certificate as provided in §  49.85 within 5 years from the date students first attend the prekindergarten program.


   The provisions of this §  4.20 issued under section 2603-B of the Public School Code of 1949 (24 P. S. §  26-2603-B); amended under sections 121, 2603-B and 2604-B of the Public School Code of 1949 (24 P. S. § §  1-121, 26-2603-B and 26-2604-B).


   The provisions of this §  4.20 adopted December 15, 2006, effective December 16, 2006, 36 Pa.B. 7542; amended February 28, 2014, effective March 1, 2014, 44 Pa.B. 1131. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (332269) to (332270) and (350149).

Cross References

   This section cited in 22 Pa. Code §  405.42 (relating to program day and developmentally appropriate instructional practices and activities).

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