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Massachusetts

November 26, 2008

House Bill 399: Mandatory Full-Day Kindergarten

Sponsor:
Representatives Antonio F. D. Cabral (D), Robert K. Coughlin (D), John J. Binienda (D), Robert M. Koczera (D), Gloria L. Fox (D), Christine E. Canavan (D), John P. Fresolo (D), Elizabeth A. Malia (D), and Demetrius J. Atsalis (D), and Senator Mark C. Montigny (D)

Summary:
House Bill 399 would require that every child in Massachusetts attend full-day kindergarten—thus expanding state control over children.

Status:

1/10/2007 (House) Filed
1/10/2007 (House) Referred to Joint Committee on Education
1/10/2007 (Senate) Senate concurred in committee referral
10/23/2007 Public Hearing, 1 p.m., Room A-1
3/6/2008 (House) Accompanied by a study order to Joint Committee on Education
5/15/2008 (House) (House) Accompanied by a study order, see H.B. 4748

HSLDA's Position:
Oppose.

Action Requested:
None at this time.

Background:
According to the 2005 NAEP, test scores of children from states which have low compulsory attendance ages (5-6) did not score any higher than children from the other states, and in some subjects their average was actually lower.

Many education experts have concluded that beginning a child’s formal education too early may actually result in burnout and poor scholastic performance later.

A report published February 6, 2007 by the Goldwater Institute examines Stanford 9 test scores and finds Arizona kindergarten programs initially improve learning but have no measurable impact on reading, math, or language arts test scores by fifth grade.

The data show that students in schools with all-day kindergarten programs have statistically significant higher 3rd-grade test scores, but there is no impact on 5th-grade scores. This finding is consistent with previous research. Forcing children into school early delivers short-term benefits at best.

Another significant impact of expanding the mandatory schooling is the inevitable tax increase to pay for more classroom space and teachers to accommodate the additional students compelled to attend public schools. When California raised the age of compulsory attendance, unwilling students were so disruptive that new schools had to be built just to handle them and their behavior problems, all at the expense of the taxpayer.

For more information on compulsory attendance, please see our memorandum on compulsory attendance age legislation.

 Other Resources

Bill Text    (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)