Wednesday, March 6, 2013

2013 Indiana House Bill 1302 mandatory kindergarten enrollment - Legislation Part 35

Representative Shelley VanDenburgh has introduced a bill to mandate that children in Indiana attend kindergarten.

House Bill 1302 affects the following citations: IC 20-33-2; IC 20-51-1 The synopsis is as follows:
Age for mandatory school attendance. Beginning with the 2013-2014 school year, requires a student to enroll in a kindergarten program that is at least a half-day program not later than the fall term of the school year in which the student becomes five years of age. Makes conforming changes.

There continues to be argument over whether advancing formalized education produces better educational outcomes. For instance the New York based Alliance for Quality Education has published this document to support their position on beginning formal education for children at a younger age. However, most of the supporting studies for early childhood education used children who where considered “at risk” such as single parent, poverty, or recognized learning difficulties. There has not been an attempt to compact formal education and thus there are no results. Children who are home schooled are often able to complete high school by age sixteen.[fn1].

In my posting about SB399I wrote about statewide mandatory starting age:
What I would rather see though is a statewide effort to advance formal instruction to provide for completion of state sponsored education at an earlier age. Advancing the starting age of grade one by one year can cut two years from the completion age through elementary school compacting. Students would then be completing high school around age 16 which is consistent with other maturation periods and will allow a smoother transition from childhood to adulthood.

Studies that have followed children from early education programs have found that “fade out” occurs as early as grade three[fn2]. The reason for this is that formalized education programs develop curriculum advancement rates targeted towards the slower learners. Accelerated learners are then hampered by the system and the advancement they once possessed is reduced to the mean.

Unlike SB399, Representative VanDerburgh's bill will provide uniformity in the starting age of formal education. Unfortunately, without also compacting the elementary school curriculum then mandatory kindergarten will do nothing more than increase the burden on taxpayers and continue to subject children to more time restricted by the inflated formalized education time structure.

[1] Jon Callahan, Arizona Families for Home Education
[2] Valerie E. Lee and Susanna Loeb, "Where Do Head Start Attendees End Up? One Reason Why Preschool Effects Fade Out," University of Michigan, January 24, 1994

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