Important Step Forward for the Children of Connecticut

May 13, 2011

Hartford, CT – Senator Toni Boucher (R-26) along with fellow legislators in the state senate voted yes to overwhelmingly passed SB 930, AN ACT CONCERNING THE SCHOOL ENTRANCE AGE. This bill requires students to start kindergarten by the age of six, rather than seven, unless there is a physical and/or developmental reason.

“This is an important step forward for the children of Connecticut,” said Senator Boucher.

Senator Boucher’s floor debate on the bill

Current law allows parents to hold a child back from enrolling in school until the age of seven. This is a common practice referred to as ‘red shirting’. The new law moves the age up to 6 years old, a change that Senator Boucher believes will help many school districts close the achievement gap.

“Brain research shows that children from birth to age 5 learn at a very fast pace, and develop nearly 80 % of their knowledge during those early years,” remarked Senator Boucher. “Young children are like sponges retaining water. When we hold them back from learning they are losing a great deal of time in the classroom and they fall behind their peers.”

Back in 2001, Senator Boucher was the original sponsor of a bill asking for the entrance age to be no more than 5 years old. A compromise was required to pass the bill that changed the start age from 7 to 5. The comprise language allowed parents to asking for a waiver to wait until their child turned seven. Now ten years later this is one small step inching closer to that original goal.

Senator Boucher says, “I’m happy to see us moving in the right direction. Ultimately, this helps us move closer to closing the largest in the nation achievement gap.”

This bill does not change the start date by which a student can enter kindergarten (by the age of five) from January to October, which is currently in another bill.

Senator Boucher is ranking member on the education and higher education committees.