House Bill 1283: Lowering the Compulsory School Attendance Age to 6

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Last Updated: January 22, 2014
House Bill 1283: Lowering the Compulsory School Attendance Age to 6
Sponsors:
Representatives Maxwell, Stonier, Johnson, Hunt, Reykdal, Bergquist, Sawyer, Pollet, Cody, Kagi, Roberts, Orwall, Lytton, Jinkins, Ryu
Summary:

House Bill 1283 will lower the compulsory school age for all children from 8 to 6 years old.

As it was originally written House Bill 1283 exempted homeschool parents from having to report to their local school district until their child is 8 years old. Apparently, this was done in an attempt to remove the concerns of the homeschooling community about lowering the compulsory attendance age. However, in all likelihood this would have caused several problems in the future. Homeschool students still would have been required to be taught at home when they turned 6. The homeschool family will only be exempted from reporting until their child turns 8. If any questions by local school officials or social services had come up during this time the parent would likely have had to provide some type of verification of their school program.

House Bill 1283 currently requires a parent to filed the declaration of intent for each child at age 6 but not require testing until age 8. While these changes more accurately reflect the impact of lowering the compulsory attendance age, we still oppose the bill.

We don't believe lowering the compulsory attendance age is in the best interest of parental rights in Washington. While many students will begin school at 6, or earlier, this bill would have prevented parents from being able to decide when their child is ready to start school.

This bill has been re-introduced and is currently in the Senate Education Committee. At this time it is uncertain if the bill will move but we are monitoring it closely.

HSLDA's Position:

HSLDA is opposed to House Bill 1283-S as it will remove the ability of a parent to put off formal education until children are 8 years old. It will also require parents to comply with the home education requirements of Washington law (except the annual assessment) two years earlier then they are currently required to.

Action Requested:

Please contact the House and Senate committee members found at the links below and give them this message:

"Please oppose House Bill 1283-S. As parents of a school age child, I should be able to determine when my child is ready for school. While most parents are already sending their children to school or otherwise ensuring that they are receiving an education at age 6, the parent should be the one to determine when the child should begin his or her formal education. Please vote against House Bill 1283-S."

House Education Committee members can be found here.

Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee members can be found here.

Status:

1/22/2013     (House)     First reading, referred to Education.
1/31/2013     (House)     Public hearing in the House Committee on Education
2/14/2013     (House)     Bill substituted, do pass.
2/25/2013     (House)     Hearing in house Appropriations Subcommittee on Education-Do pass substituted bill.
3/08/2013     (House)     Third Reading. Passed 74 to 23.
3/12/2013     (Senate)     First Reading, referred to Early Learning & K-12 Education
3/22/2013     (Senate)     Public Hearing in the Senate Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education
3/17/2013     (Senate)     Last day to consider opposite house bills. Bill is dead for this year.
1/13/2014
Jan 13     (House)     By resolution, reintroduced and retained in present status. Rules Committee relieved of further consideration. Referred to Education.

Background:

In addition to the fact that homeschool parents will be required to begin formally educating their child at age 6, there were more concerns about House Bill 1283-S.

Under House Bill 1283-S, a special exemption has being created for homeschool parents to delay testing until their child is 8. Once the compulsory attendance age is lowered to 6 a future bill will only need to remove this exemption for homeschool families testing, and the parent will have to fully comply with the law when their child is 6.

According to the 2005 NAEP test scores, children from states that 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.

Lowering the compulsory attendance age erodes the authority of parents who are in the best position to determine when their child's formal education should begin.

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 5th 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.

 Other Resources

Bill Text

Bill History

"Raising the Compulsory Attendance Age Fails to Achieve Significant Results"