May 30, 2008

Senate Bill 399: Compulsory School Attendance for 6-year-olds

Legislative Educational Planning Committee

This bill would lower the compulsory school attendance age from 7 to 6.

Note: This bill does not contain an actual exemption from compulsory attendance based on parental objection. Instead, this bill would allow a parent to exempt their child from the grade level of kindergarten, while still requiring attendance at school.

1/3/2008(Senate) Prefiled for introduction
1/14/2008(Senate) Introduced, Referred to Education
2/26/2008(Senate) CR: Be passed as am. by Education
2/28/2008(Senate) COW: CR be adptd; be further am.; be passed as am. -SJ 1376; EFA: Passed as am.; Yeas 36 Nays 3 -SJ 1377
2/29/2008(Senate) Engrossed -SJ 1386
2/29/2008(House) Received and introduced -HJ 1492
3/4/2008(House) Referred to Education -HJ 1511
3/6/2008(House) Hearing: Wednesday, 3/12/08, 9 a.m., Room 313-S

This bill failed to exit the House Education Committee, and is now dead.

HSLDA's Position:

Action Requested:
None at this time.


According to the 2005 NAEP, test scores of children from states which have low compulsory school 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 compelledto 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 memorandum, “Mandatory Kindergarten Is Unnecessary.”

 Other Resources

E-lert—February 28, 2008— Kansas: Action Needed to Stop Expansion of State Control Over Children!

E-lert—February 29, 2008— Kansas: Battle Moves to House to Stop Greater State Control Over 6-Year-Olds

E-lert—March 7, 2008— Kansas: Action Needed to Stop Expansion of State Control Over Children!

E-lert—March 19, 2008— Kansas: Action Still Needed to Stop Expansion of State Control Over Children!

Bill Text (PDF)    (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Bill History