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Senate Bill 301 will lower the compulsory school attendance age in Indiana from 7 to 5 years of age. However, the bill actually requires that a child attend at "the beginning of the fall school term for the school year in which the student becomes five." Since the school year in Indiana is from July 1 to June 30, a child who will be turning 5 by June 30 of that school year will be compulsory attendance age when he or she is only 4 years old. In fact, a student as young as 4 years, one month, and 4 days old could be required to attend school if the local school corporation's first days of school is on August 3.
This bill will also require that "a student shall enroll in a kindergarten program not later than the fall term of the school year in which the student becomes five (5) years of age."
Under Senate Bill 301 the only exception to having the child enrolled in kindergarten as young as 4 years, one month and a few days old is when a parent intends on enrolling the student in a nonaccredited, nonpublic school. If that is the case the parent can wait until the child actually turns 5 to ensure that the child is being provided with instruction equivalent to that given in the public schools. Therefore, if this bill passes, homeschool parents could only wait until their child actually turns 5 before they must begin providing formal kindergarten instruction. There will be no exception for students who are not ready for kindergarten at 5 or have a developmental delay that would preclude them from benefiting from kindergarten-level instruction.
Senate Bill 301 also makes some minor textual changes to an eligible student for the choice scholarship program. The bill will make it clear that only students who turn 5 by August 1 will be eligible for this program.
HSLDA is opposed to Senate Bill 301 as this bill will prevent parents from being able to determine when their children should begin formal instruction.
01/08/2015 (Senate) First Reading: Referred to Education and Career Development
Lowering the compulsory attendance age from 7 to 5 would subject Indiana home educators to the requirements of the homeschool statute two years earlier than now required. (You do not need to share this with your legislators.)
According to the 2005 NAEP test scores from states that have low compulsory attendance ages, children 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 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.
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HSLDA Issues Library: Compulsory Attendance
HSLDA Issues Library: Early Childhood Education