June 7, 2011
CONN. BILL SETS UP TASK FORCE ON KINDERGARTEN AGE
HARTFORD, Conn.— The Connecticut House of Representatives on Tuesday bypassed a decision on raising the state's kindergarten age and, instead, passed a bill to create a task force that would study the issue as part of an effort to reduce the achievement gap among students in rich and poor districts.
The bill, which already passed the Senate and now heads to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's desk, creates the new group to come up with ways to reduce the state's academic achievement gap. As part of that task, the same group would study how to narrow the kindergarten age range. A report is due July 1, 2012.
Rep. Jason Rojas, D-East Hartford, said lawmakers originally planned to change the entrance age requirement from age 5 by January 1 to Oct. 1 of the school year, starting 2015, but held off because many children would be turned away from kindergarten. Proponents of the bill have said there aren't enough available preschool spots for those children in the meantime.
Rojas said lawmakers still hope the state will be able to make the age change in 2015.
Under the bill, the new task force must develop a master plan that identifies achievement gaps between racial and ethnic groups, socio-economic groups, gender and English language-learners and English-speaking students. The plan will include annual benchmarks for closing the achievement gap.
The bill also permits local or regional school boards to increase the number of school days each year to improve student performance. Current law requires at least 180.