More Minnesota students start kindergarten at age 4. Is that OK?

Jun 17, 2019 by

At 4, Hamdi Mohamoud’s son, Imran, was potty-trained and obedient and knew the alphabet, shape names and simple math.

“I felt like he was excelling,” his mother said.

A teacher’s assessment at Higher Ground Academy confirmed her hopes: He was ready to start kindergarten, four months before his fifth birthday.

“She tested him and said he’s great. I said, ‘I know, right?’” Mohamoud said after a kindergarten graduation ceremony last month. “You don’t understand how proud I am.”

At Imran’s St. Paul charter school, there’s nothing exceptional about his tender age. Out of 70 kindergartners enrolled at Higher Ground this year, 39 started at age 4.

Experts say an early start to formal schooling can be appropriate for high-achievers, but some worry that schools are abusing the system and inflicting lasting harm on Minnesota’s youngest students.

The state sets admission guidelines but it’s up to each school to decide who they think is ready for kindergarten. The result has been vast disparities by race and school type.

A Pioneer Press analysis of Minnesota Department of Education data found that statewide this year:

continue: More Minnesota students start kindergarten at age 4. Is that OK?

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