Published: 5/8/2023 2:30 PM


​Kentucky's primary program, as defined in KRS 158.03​​1, is part of the elementary school program in which children are enrolled from the time they begin school until they are ready to enter the intermediate program (fourth grade). The primary program is open to any child who is five (5) years of age, or who may become five (5) years of age by August 1. The student may enter a primary school program and may advance through the ungraded primary program without regard to age. 

The primary program includes the following critical attributes: 

  • continuous progress;  

  • developmentally appropriate educational practices;  

  • authentic assessment;  

  • multiage and multiability classrooms;  

  • qualitative reporting methods;  

  • professional teamwork;  

  • and positive parent involvement. 

Student Placement in the Primary Program

Per KRS 158.031, each school council “shall determine the organization of its ungraded primary program including the extent to which multiage groups are necessary to implement the “critical attributes” based on individual student needs. Best practices in primary grades involve balancing children’s need for focused instruction with their need to build on what they already know. Since young students are unique and learn at different rates, all students may not reach developmental milestones at the same time. The school will determine the level of readiness and development. 

The primary program’s intention is for individual students to be grouped and regrouped (sometimes in single-age groupings and sometimes in multi-age groupings) to meet their individual developmental needs and to assure continuous progress. Per 704 KAR 3:440, students enrolled in the primary program shall progress at their individual learning rates. Therefore, students may also be grouped based on common interests, talents or learning styles so they may observe and learn from other children. Schools vary in how they approach the structure of the primary program.

Accelerated Placement ​

Under KRS 158.031, school districts may advance a student through the primary program when it is in the best educational interest of the student. A student who is at least five years of age, but less than six years of age, may be classified as other than a kindergarten student for the purpose of funding if the student is determined to have acquired the academic and social skills taught in kindergarten. Eligibility for accelerated placement is based upon a school team review of multiple sources of information about the child, and the review must include anecdotal records, student work samples, including evidence of self-reflection, and standardized test results (702 KAR 7:125). Local board approval is also required. Districts must complete and submit the Accelerated Placement in Primary Form​ to the KDE. 

Extra Year In Primary 

The primary program is a prerequisite for entrance into grade four. For each school having a primary program as defined and established by KRS 158.031​ and 704 KAR 3:440​, if it is determined that a primary student is not prepared for entrance into grade four, an additional year in primary may be offered to the student.   ​ 

The local school district must determine if the student has met the requirements for promotion to grade four. Therefore, according to student records maintained by the school, if a student has not met the necessary requirements to complete the primary program, the school may offer a fifth year in primary to the student to fully prepare the student prior to entering grade four.  

Please email with questions regarding Kentucky's Primary Program. 

Statutes and Regulations that govern the appropriate implementation of Kentucky's Primary Program

Kindergarten Entry Age 

Primary School Program Guidelines 

Ungraded Primary Program 

Entrance of five (5) year olds into primary school program for compulsory attendance purposes 704 KAR 5:060​ ​​

​Pamela Wininger
Office of Teaching and Learning
Division of Program Standards
300 Sower Blvd., 5th Floor
(502) 564-2106
Fax (502) 564-6470
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