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House Bill 2199 would lower the compulsory attendance age from 8 to 6 years of age. However, this bill would prohibit a school district from filing a petition in juvenile court for truancy unless the child was 8 years old or older. Additionally, House Bill 2199 would not require homeschool parents to submit the declaration of intent to their local school district until their child was 8 years old.
HSLDA is opposed to House Bill 2199 because it lowers the compulsory age for children to begin school from 8 to 6, thus removing parents' freedom to decide when their child is ready for school. While homeschool parents are not required to submit their declaration of intent until a child is 8, local school officials and other governmental agencies would likely demand "evidence" that the child is being homeschooled if the family comes to their attention. Additionally, future legislation could very easily remove this "exemption" and homeschool parents would be required to report when their child turns 6.
We are closely monitoring this bill to see what action the legislature intends to take on the bill. If it continues to move we will update you on potential action you can take.
12/15/2011 (House) Prefiled for introduction.
01/09/2012 (House) First reading, referred to Education.
01/26/2012 (House) Scheduled for public hearing in the House Committee on Education at 1:30 p.m.
01/31/2012 (House) Scheduled for executive session in the House Committee on Education at 1:30 p.m.
04/11/2012 (House) Died in Committee
• Lowering the compulsory school attendance age from 8 to 6 would subject Washington home educators to increased scrutiny because they alone would be "exempt" from having to report until their children are 8. Additionally, with one quick change in the statute, homeschoolers could be forced to the requirements of the homeschool statute two years earlier and one year later than now required. (You do not need to share this reason with your legislators.)
• According to the 2005 NAEP, test scores of 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 school 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.
• Another significant impact of expanding the compulsory attendance age would be an 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 upper age limit 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 Issues Library entry on compulsory attendance.
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