House passes bill requiring students entering 1st grade to attend kindergarten or meet certain learning standards
MONTGOMERY — The Alabama House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill that would require students in Alabama to complete kindergarten or meet certain achievement standards in order to enroll in first grade.
State Rep. Pebblin Warren (D-Tuskegee) sponsored the legislation, HB208, which passed by a vote of 83-17.
A fiscal note prepared for the legislation estimated it would increase the number of kindergarten students by a maximum of 5,000. The total cost of implementing the change would be approximately $33.8 million, per the note.
A similar bill from Warren passed the House in 2019 before being voted down in the State Senate.
The assessments a student must pass in order to bypass the kindergarten attendance requirement are to be developed by the State Department of Education and will test students’ abilities in reading, math and writing.
The department will be required to publish information on the 1st-grade readiness assessments online once they are formalized.
Available estimates say that over 90% of eligible students in Alabama already attend kindergarten, which school districts are required to make publicly available.
Legislators who spoke against the bill expressed misgivings at expanding the terms of government-required education.
According to the Education Commission of the States, 19 states and Washington D.C. currently require students to attend kindergarten.
If passed by the Senate and signed by the governor, the law would take effect beginning in the fall of 2021.
Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.