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The Department of Defense Education Activity has changed eligibility requirements for kindergartners and first graders for the 2009-10 school year.

Children must be 5 by Sept. 1 to enroll in kindergarten, and 6 by the same date to attend first grade, according to a DODEA news release. The previous eligibility birth date was Oct. 31.

The change mirrors a standard applied throughout the United States, the release said.

To participate in DODEA’s pre-kindergarten or Sure Start program, a child must be 4 by Sept. 1.

Students who attended kindergarten or a Sure Start program under the DODEA system last year are exempt from the new eligibility rules, the release said.

Also exempt, are children already enrolled in an accredited kindergarten or first grade who transfer to a DODEA school after the start of the academic year.

Pre-kindergarten programs will not be grandfathered in, the release said, but will be allowed to attend the DODEA programs for an additional year if they do not meet the new age requirements.

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