Proposal To Raise The Enrollment Age For Kindergarten

Plan Would Require Kids To Be 5 Years Old By October 1st.

Proposal To Raise The Enrollment Age For Kindergarten
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Proposal To Raise The Enrollment Age For Kindergarten

Connecticut’s Education Committee will hear testimony Friday on a proposal that would raise the minimum enrollment age for kindergarten.

Supporters of the idea say it would improve teaching and learning because the age range in kindergarten is too wide. But critics say it would make things worse for low-income kids whose families may not be able to afford an extra year of preschool.

State Senator Andrea Stillman says children need to be mature enough to enter kindergarten.  

"But because Connecticut has a date of January 1st of the school year in which the child would be entering, in many instances the child that might start at the age of 4 ½ would have a disadvantage in a school setting where they could be with 6 year olds."

Stillman would like to phase-in a plan that would require all kids to turn five years old by October 1st  of the year they enter kindergarten.  

"By changing the date of eligibility, you create another 10,000 children whose parents have to find a way to pay for an additional year of child care." Cyd Oppenheimer, Senior Policy Fellow at Connecticut Voices for Children, says this could worsen the state’s achievement gap because without access to preschool, the most at-risk students would enter school even further behind. 

She says most students in kindergarten  fall within an age range of about 16-months. And in states that have raised the enrollment age,  

"...we continue to see an age range of about 16 months. Because parents are really concerned about their kids being the youngest in the class, So instead of parents whose children have birthdays in September to December holding their children, we might see  parents whose children have birthdays from June to September holding their children."

A similar provision was struck from a bill in Connecticut in 2011. 

For WNPR, I’m Diane Orson.