House Education Policy Committee chair hopes mandatory kindergarten bill passes
The chair of the House Education Policy Committee Wednesday expressed hope that a bill effectively mandating kindergarten attendance would pass this session.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, would allow children to enter first grade after they complete kindergarten or show that they are ready for first grade through an assessment.
Collins, speaking at the committee’s first meeting of the 2023 legislative session, said after the meeting that she expects to see it move “pretty quickly.” The representative said that the House has been responsive in the past but that there has been “misinformation” about the bill, such as allegations that the bill contains “forced testing.”
“If a child shows for the very first time at school, as a six-year-old, it’ll just be determined are they ready to go to first grade, or would it be better for them to start in kindergarten,” Collins said.
Warren has filed a version of the bill in the past. It passed the House in 2021 and won approval from a Senate committee but failed to come to a vote in that chamber.
“It did not make it that last day,” Collins said Wednesday. “I was just ever hopeful.”
The Alabama State Board of Education last week passed a resolution mandating first grade readiness at their board meeting.
State Schools Superintendent Eric Mackey said Thursday that the resolution made kindergarten compulsory “as the board has the legal authority to do.”
“So, what the Board did already, it has now already set up the function about the testing and those kinds of things,” he said.
Mackey said that the Board does not have the ability to change the “compulsory attendance age.”
Mackey said that he has not seen the bill but has spoken with Warren about the bill.
According to the National Center of Education Statistics, 19 states and Washington, D.C. mandated kindergarten as of 2020.