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Kindergarten age entrance change considered

July 23, 2000|By TARA REILLY

Kindergarten age entrance change considered



By 2001, Maryland children entering kindergarten could have an extra four months to prepare for school, under a proposal before the Maryland Association of Boards of Education.

B. Marie Byers, Washington County School Board member and member of the MABE, said the proposal would allow students to mature and keep Maryland in step with other states.

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Under current law, a student entering kindergarten must turn 5 years old by Dec. 31, which means some students can be 4 years old when they start kindergarten at the beginning of the year.

The proposal would add an extra four months by bumping the age requirement to Sept. 1.

"Children will be 4 months older, and therefore have four more months of maturity," Byers said.

She also said an extra four months could later on help improve scores on the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program tests if children enter school at the later stage.

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Maryland is one of four states that require students about to enter kindergarten to turn five by Dec. 31. The majority of states follow either a Sept. 1 or Sept. 31 requirement.

"It has pros and cons," Jill Burkhart, Clear Spring Elementary principal said. "The negative part is that there would be a transition period for the community. The positive part is that it gives a child a couple of extra months. When children are at that very young age, those couple of months can make a difference. I would support it."

Robin Handler, principal at Pleasant Valley Elementary, said kindergarten readiness should be determined by looking at the pre-school experiences of each child.

"I think you need to look at individual kids and their experiences with preschool," Handler said. "Are kids who are very young ready to enter school? Our goal is to help the success of all students, and we need individual programs to meet their needs."

Byers said if MABE adopts the proposal, it could be before the State Board of Education in 2001 and possibly be in effect throughout the state by Sept. 2001.

"It would be a step forward," Byers said. "Maryland would be more in step with the majority of the states."

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