LANSING, Mich.— The Senate gave unanimous approval Thursday to a set of bills designed to improve academic success by ensuring children are prepared to learn before they start kindergarten.
Senate Bills 315 and 316 would move up the date by which a child needs to be age 5 in order to enter kindergarten. That date would move from Dec 1 to Nov 1 for the 2013-14 school year, and would move up one month each year until reaching Sept 1 for the 2015-16 school year. Research suggests that delaying kindergarten by as little as three months could lead to significantly improved test scores in math and reading and reduce the number of students needing to repeat the grade level.
Sen. Mike Nofs, R-Battle Creek, won approval of an amendment which encourages parents and schools to communicate about a child’s readiness and clarifies that parents or legal guardians still maintain discretion as to whether to enroll a child.
“There are a variety of factors that go into determining whether a child is prepared to start kindergarten,” Nofs said. “But the ultimate decision about whether or not to enroll a child should be left to the parents or legal guardians. My amendment makes that clear, while also encouraging communication between parents or guardians and the school to help ensure any concerns are shared and that children are as prepared as possible.”
Under the amendment, parents of a child who would turn 5 years old by Dec 1 could request that the school district enroll their child even though he or she would not meet the revised deadline. Schools would also need to report the number of parents or guardians making such requests.
The legislation now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.