Senate Bill 89: Mandatory Kindergarten


Last Updated: July 6, 2010
Senate Bill 89: Mandatory Kindergarten
Senators Coggs, Lehman, Carpenter, Vinehout, Plale and Robson, cosponsored by Representatives Smith, Pope-Roberts, Berceau, Richards, Soletski, Colon, Sinicki, Mason, Pasch, Fields, Hebl, Benedict, Hixson, Milroy, Clark, Zigmunt, Bernard Schaber and A. Ott.

Under current law, attendance in school is compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 18. A child who has reached the age of 4 years may enroll in 4-year-old kindergarten if the school district in which the child resides operates a 4-year-old kindergarten program, and a child who has reached the age of 5 years may enroll in 5-year-old kindergarten. However, enrollment in and the completion of kindergarten is not required.

The bill provides that, beginning on September 1, 2011, a school board may not enroll a child in the first grade in a school in the school district, including a charter school located in the school district, unless the child has completed five-year old kindergarten. The bill requires each school board to adopt a written policy specifying the criteria for promoting a pupil from five-year old kindergarten to first grade.

HSLDA's Position:
Action Requested:
None at this time

2/25/2009 (Senate) Introduced
2/25/2009 (Senate) Read first time and referred to committee on Education
3/17/2009 (Senate) Fiscal estimate received
3/31/2009 (Senate) Senate Substitute Amendment 1 offered by Senator Coggs
4/2/2009 (Senate) Public hearing at 1:30 p.m.
7/9/2009 (Senate) Executive action taken
7/10/2009 (Senate) Report passage as amended recommended by Committee on Education, Yes 4, No 3
7/10/2009 (Senate) Report adoption of Senate Substitute Amendment 1 recommended by Committee on Education, Yes 7, No 0
7/10/2009 (Senate) Available for scheduling for Senate vote by Organization Committee
9/16/2009 (Senate) Placed on calendar 9-22-2009 by committee on Senate Organization
9/22/2009 (Senate) Read a second time
9/22/2009 (Senate) Laid on the table

This bill failed to pass, and is now dead.


While the bill purports to make these programs optional, history shows us that there will be subsequent pressure to make them mandatory, universal, and funded with taxpayer dollars.

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 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 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.

For more information on compulsory attendance, please see our memorandum, “Compulsory Attendance Age Legislation.”

 Other Resources

Bill Text

Bill History

Elert—March 26, 2009: Calls Needed to Oppose Early Education Bill