Report Title:

Education; Kindergarten; Entrance Age Requirement

Description:

Advances the cutoff age for kindergarten to children who are five-years-old by August 1 beginning with the 2005-2006 school year; requires DOE to offer appropriate educational services for those children born August 2 to December 31 of same school year ("the gap group"); requests DOE to conduct study and report on programmatic and fiscal impacts of providing gap group programs. (CD1)

THE SENATE

S.B. NO.

17

TWENTY-SECOND LEGISLATURE, 2003

S.D. 1

STATE OF HAWAII

H.D. 1


C.D. 1

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

relating to education.

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

SECTION 1. The legislature finds that studies nationally and locally have found substantial differences between "older" students and "younger" students within a grade, in terms of their performance and ability. Additional data relating to students' birth dates and specific learning disabilities have been analyzed locally. Analysis of March 1998 statewide data indicated a correlation between birth month and learning disability certification. It was found that a disproportionate number of those born in the latter half of the calendar year (July through December) were classified as learning disabled. Students at greatest risk are boys born between July and December. They account for a disproportionate number of students who are retained at their present grade level, have school adjustment problems, or are certified as learning disabled. Comparisons between Hawaii students and students in other states on national achievement tests in later grades are likely to be more equitable if the entry age of Hawaii students is more closely aligned to that of most other states.

In light of these and other findings, the legislature believes that a change in the minimum age requirement for entrance to kindergarten will provide a more level playing field for students born in the latter half of the calendar year. The temporary inconvenience or disruption to some parents and the education system must be weighed against the potential long-term benefit to the child and the cost savings to society that result as enrollment in special education and other remedial programs decline. The legislature further finds that, in the long run, changing the kindergarten entrance age will prove to be sound public policy that will result in the most good for the majority of the general public.

Accordingly, the purpose of this Act is to advance the cutoff date for kindergarten to August 1 beginning with the 2005-2006 school year, and to direct the department of education to provide appropriate educational programs for those students born August 2 to December 31 of the same school year, "the gap group" who would no longer be eligible for kindergarten.

SECTION 2. Section 302A-411, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

"302A-411 Kindergartens; establishment; attendance. (a) The department shall establish and maintain kindergartens with a program of instruction as a part of the public school system; provided that attendance shall not be mandatory. [No child shall attend any kindergarten unless the child will be at least five years of age on or before December 31 of the school year; provided that a child attending a school that convenes after the regular school schedule shall be five years of age on or before one hundred twenty-five days following the date the school convenes; and provided further that the board shall develop informational guidance to promote the understanding of a child's readiness for kindergarten.] The department shall establish procedures and criteria to determine the readiness of children for public school kindergarten. Parents and guardians may request an assessment of the child and the department may grant an exception in the case of a child who is found to be ready for kindergarten. All teachers who teach kindergarten, first, or second grades, and principals of public elementary schools, shall enforce this section.

(b) Beginning with the 2003-2004 school year, a child who will be at least five years of age on or before January 1 of the school year may attend a public school kindergarten. Beginning with the 2005-2006 school year, a child who will be at least five years of age on or before August 1 of the school year may attend a public school kindergarten. For those children who will be at least five years of age after August 1 and before January 1 of the school year, the department shall offer appropriate educational programs, including but not limited to junior kindergartens and pre-kindergartens, as determined by the department based upon the educational needs of the children born between on August 2 and before January 1 of the school year who are not eligible to attend kindergarten.

(c) The department may accept gifts to establish and maintain kindergartens[.] and pre-kindergartens, and may offer available classrooms and related school facilities for public or privately operated pre-kindergartens. If a public school pre-kindergarten program is not available or not offered at the child's home elementary school, the department, to the extent practicable and within available resources, may allow the child to attend a public or privately-operated pre-kindergarten program at another public elementary school within the same school complex; provided that the family provides transportation of the child to and from the pre-kindergarten program that the child attends."

SECTION 3. Section 302A-1131, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is repealed.

["[302A-1131] Public schools; attendance. (a) Except as authorized by section 302A-411, no child shall attend any public school unless the child will be at least six years of age before January 1 of the school year; provided that:

(1) A child attending a school that convenes after the regular school schedule shall be six years of age on or before one hundred twenty-five days following the date the school shall convene; and

(2) The department may establish procedures and criteria to determine the psychological and physiological readiness of children for public school and may grant an exception in the case of a child who is found to be ready.

(b) All teachers who teach in the first and second grades and principals of public schools shall enforce this section and require proof of age by birth certificates or certificates of registration, or if none can be obtained, then by satisfactory evidence."]

SECTION 4. The department of education shall conduct a feasibility study on implementing appropriate educational programs for children born on August 2 or before January 1 of a school year, "the gap group", including but not limited to junior kindergarten or pre-kindergarten within the public schools, and submit a report of its findings to the legislature no later than twenty days before the convening of the regular session of 2004. The report shall include:

(1) An assessment of whether such educational programs for the gap group should be permanent or transitional to support the implementation of the new kindergarten age requirements;

(2) The cost of such gap group programs, including training costs;

(3) A determination of the economic impact on the department of implementing the new kindergarten age requirements;

(4) An assessment of the impact on department personnel of implementing gap group programs and the new kindergarten age requirements;

(5) A determination of the number of children affected by the new kindergarten age requirements who would fall into the gap group and require services; and

(6) A plan for implementing the gap group programs in small rural or isolated schools, where only a limited number of students may be eligible for gap group programs, and for whom travelling to other sites may not be feasible.

SECTION 5. It is the intent of the legislature that any cost-savings realized by the department of education due to changing the age of entry into kindergarten to August 1 beginning with the 2005-2006 school year, be reallocated by the department for gap group programs established pursuant to this Act. The superintendent of education shall determine, based upon preliminary enrollment numbers, the projected amount of cost-savings to be realized and report those amounts to the legislature not later than March 1 of the regular session of 2005.

SECTION 6. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 7. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.