BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 1236
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          Date of Hearing:   April 25, 2007

                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
                                 Gene Mullin, Chair
                    AB 1236 (Mullin) - As Amended:  April 18, 2007
          SUBJECT  :   Kindergarten:  Age of Admissions; Compulsory School  
          Attendance;  Kindergarten Readiness Program

           SUMMARY  :   Moves up the date by 3 months by which a child must  
          be 5 years old to enroll in kindergarten and 6 years old to  
          enroll in first grade, beginning in 2011-12; makes kindergarten  
          compulsory, beginning in 2010-11; and establishes the  
          Kindergarten Readiness Program, beginning in 2011-12.   
          Specifically,  this bill  :  

          1)Establishes the Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2008.

          2)Makes findings and declarations about the benefits of delaying  
            the age children are permitted to enroll in kindergarten and  
            research that shows that preschool-age children are better  
            prepared for success in kindergarten and beyond when they have  
            attended a high-quality prekindergarten program. 

          3)States the intent of the Legislature in enacting this act that  
            all of the following shall take place:

             a)   School districts offer voluntary kindergarten readiness  
               classes for all children one year before those children  
               enroll in kindergarten. 
             b)   Children be five years of age by September 1 in order to  
               attend kindergarten.
             c)   Children five years of age be subject to compulsory  
             d)   School districts inform parents and guardians of the new  
               age limitations for enrollment in kindergarten and first  
               grade that are implemented pursuant to this act.

          4)Repeals the Kindergarten Readiness Pilot Program.

          5)Establishes the Kindergarten Readiness Program beginning in  
            the 2011-12 school year as follows: 

             a)   Requires the State Department of Education (SDE) to  
               allocate funds to participating county offices of education  


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               and school districts for purposes of making kindergarten  
               readiness programs available to all children during the  
               year before kindergarten.  Specifies that participation in  
               kindergarten readiness programs on the part of a pupil is  
             b)   Requires participating county offices of education and  
               school districts to make kindergarten readiness programs  
               available within the attendance area of a child's  
               neighborhood school or in a contiguous attendance area no  
               farther from the child's home than the average distance for  
               attendance of any pupil in the child's neighborhood school.  
               Requires participating county offices of education and  
               school districts to permit, to the maximum extent feasible,  
               parents to choose the kindergarten readiness program that  
               their eligible child may attend.
             c)   Provides that to encourage the efficient use of existing  
               facilities, kindergarten readiness programs may be operated  
               using available classroom space at a public schoolsite  
               meeting kindergarten classroom requirements or at any  
               public or private facility that meets Title 5 licensing  
             d)   Provides that federal funding for preschool programs and  
               state funding appropriated annually in the Budget Act for  
               the support of state preschool programs shall be used to  
               provide services for eligible 3- and 4-year olds, including  
               supplementing kindergarten readiness programs to provide  
               full-day preschool and child development services for  
               program participants.
             e)   Specifies that kindergarten readiness program funds  
               supplement, and do not supplant, federal and state funding  
               for existing child development and state preschool  
             f)   Requires a participating county office of education or  
               school district to do all of the following:
               i)     Provide public notice of the availability of the  
                 program in their service region and use a variety of  
                 strategies to reach and inform families living in areas  
                 of poverty or high linguistic diversity, including, but  
                 not limited to, providing information through schoolsite  
                 councils, school advisory groups, community  
                 organizations, and parent meetings.
               ii)          Administer the program for participating  
                 children. Provides that a county office of education or  
                 school district that is administering a kindergarten  
                 readiness program shall have the option of contracting  


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                 with a public local agency or private local provider, or  
                 both, to participate in the delivery of kindergarten  
                 readiness program services consistent with the statutory  
                 requirements of the program.
               iii)         Use professional development resources  
                 received on behalf of certificated and classified staff  
                 in the kindergarten readiness program to provide  
                 specialized training in areas, including appropriate  
                 screening, referral, inclusive practices, linguistic and  
                 culturally appropriate teaching practices, research-based  
                 and developmentally appropriate teaching methods to  
                 achieve early learning foundations, and engaging and  
                 effectively communicating with parents and families of  
                 children with exceptional needs and English learners. 
               iv)          Collaborate with the Head Start programs to  
                 maximize the use of Head Start resources and funds.
               v)     Maintain and provide data to the SDE for purposes of  
                 program evaluation.  

             g)   Requires a kindergarten readiness program to include all  
               of the following elements to promote integration and  
               alignment with the child development and state preschool  
               system and the elementary education system:
               i)     Use of the research-based, age and developmentally  
                 appropriate preschool learning foundations of the  
                 department for all five early childhood domains and  
                 elementary education content areas that are aligned with  
                 elementary education standards.
               ii)          Use and implementation of curriculum and  
                 assessment tools that align with the preschool learning  
               iii)         Inclusion in the single school plan for pupil  
                 achievement, and participation in the California  
                 Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CalPADS) or  
                 the California School Information Services (CSIS) system.
               iv)          Coordination with other providers of service  
                 to young children, including, but not limited to,  
                 providers of health insurance, health services, including  
                 mental and behavioral health, developmental screening and  
                 assessment, parent literacy and education, and social  
                 services, especially through systems of care provided by  
                 First 5 school readiness programs, preschool  
                 demonstration projects, healthy start programs, and  
                 school health services and clinics.
               v)     Coordination of services with full-day, full-year  


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                 early care, and education programs.  
               vi)          Requires the Superintendent to establish  
                 regulations necessary to implement the kindergarten  
                 readiness program and shall incorporate, as appropriate,  
                 existing regulations and guidelines based on the desired  
                 results for children system and preschool learning  
                 foundations developed by the department. 

             h)   Requires, by July 1, 2011, the Commission on Teacher  
               Credentialing, in collaboration with the Superintendent,  
               California public colleges and universities, including  
               community colleges, to develop an early learning  
               credential.  Specifies dates, the types of degrees, the  
               credential, and education a teacher and associate teacher  
               must complete.

             i)   Specifies that for the purposes of compensation,  
               including pay and benefits, kindergarten readiness teachers  
               and associate teachers shall provide two sessions per day  
               to be considered full-time employees and shall be employees  
               of the administering county office of education or school  

             j)   Provides that classrooms of no more than 20 children  
               with at least one teacher and at least one associate  
               teacher shall be employed in each classroom.

             aa)   Specifies that a kindergarten readiness program is  
               eligible for school facilities funding and provides that  
               funds made available to public schools for joint uses may  
               be utilized for a kindergarten readiness program.

             bb)   Provides that local providers are encouraged to seek  
               shared use agreements with a broad array of entities.  

             cc)   Requires the SDE to establish and maintain an  
               evaluation system that ensures the privacy of children and  
               measures the statewide effectiveness of the program in  
               achieving the desired outcomes of children, using  
               developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate  
               and uniform tools statewide. Requires the evaluation system  
               to do all of the following:
               i)     Provide an accurate accounting of the number of  
                 children enrolled each year and an accounting of parental  
                 demand for kindergarten readiness programs. 


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               ii)          Assess the progress of children and program  
                 effectiveness by using the desired results for children  
               iii)         Use additional measures to determine whether  
                 the statewide program is effective in accomplishing the  
                  (1)          Decreasing the number of children retained  
                    in the elementary grades.
                  (2)          Decreasing the number of children placed in  
                    special education classes.
                  (3)          Improving reading and mathematics scores.
                  (4)          Participation of children by ethnicity and  
                    family income, including participation of children  
                    from non-English speaking families.
                  (5)          Improving transitions of children and  
                    families to kindergarten and transitions from home and  
                    care settings.
               iv)          Requires the SDE to submit a report based on  
                 this information to the Governor and the Legislature  
                 every five years following implementation of the  
                 Kindergarten Readiness Program.
               v)     Provides that beginning July 1, 2011, a school  
                 district that maintains a kindergarten readiness class  
                 may apply to the Superintendent for an apportionment to  
                 expand its class size reduction program to kindergarten  
                 readiness classes. 

          6)Amends kindergarten readiness programs into the provisions in  
            existing law defining enrollment, establishing procedures for  
            apportionment of funds to school districts, defining minimum  
            schoolday, specifying instructional minutes, and establishing  
            the average daily attendance. 

           EXISTING LAW  

          1)Requires that a child be admitted to a kindergarten at the  
            beginning of a school year, or at any time later in the same  
            year, if the child will have his or her 5th birthday on or  
            before December 2 of that school year. 

          2)Requires that a child be admitted to the 1st grade of an  
            elementary school during the first month of a school year if  
            the child will have his or her 6th birthday on or before  
            December 2 of that school year.


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          3)Subjects children between the ages of six and 18 years to  
            compulsory full-time education unless exempted pursuant to  
            prescribed provisions of law.

          4)Establishes the Child Care and Developmental Services Act,  
            which provides various full- and part-time programs for a  
            comprehensive, coordinated and cost-effective system of  
            developmental services for children to age 13 and their  

          5)Establishes the Kindergarten Readiness Pilot Program, which  
            permits school districts, until January 1, 2014, to  
            participate in a program to provide opportunities to increase  
            a child's readiness for school.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   Unknown

           COMMENTS  :    Background  . The California Department of Education  
          (CDE) released a report in 2004 that examined the impact of  
          changing the "cut off" date for admission to kindergarten by 3  
          months.  According to this report, moving the kindergarten date  
          from December 2 to September 1 would delay approximately 114,  
          235 children (25%) from entering kindergarten for one year and  
          could potentially save the state up to $391.8 million beginning  
          in the second year after implementation.  The amount of actual  
          savings would depend on funding services for children whose  
          entry into kindergarten would be delayed.  The report recommends  
          that thought be given to the types and quality of preschool  
          services that would be available to displaced children.

          A 2003 analysis conducted by the Legislative Analyst's Office  
          (LAO) concluded that, under a proposal that was similar to this  
          bill, the number of children who enroll in kindergarten would be  
          20% lower than would have occurred otherwise.  "The proposal  
          would continue to depress K-12 enrollment (by roughly 90,000  
          students annually, or roughly 1.5% of total K-12 enrollment)  
          until the children who entered kindergarten graduated from high  
          school."  This LAO report found 2 major fiscal effects of the  

          1)   Annual state General Fund savings of roughly $450 million  
               from a lower Proposition 98 funding requirement (in  
               2003-04); and,

          2)   Annual savings on revenue limit spending of approximately  


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               $400 million and on categorical programs of roughly $200  
               million.  These savings levels would continue for about 12  

          Numerous studies have been conducted relative to school  
          readiness and the age of entry into kindergarten.  Some studies  
          report a benefit to delayed entry while others show there is no  
          benefit.  One report, What Age Should Children Enter  
          Kindergarten? A Question for Policy Makers and Parents (Stipek,  
          2002), concludes that school experience makes a greater  
          contribution to academic achievement than delaying children's  
          school entry. Initial benefits of starting school later that  
          were found in some studies tended not to last.  Furthermore,  
          according to Stipek, research does not support any unique  
          "threshold" entry age by which young children are most ready to  
          begin school. Children from low-income backgrounds, already at  
          risk of starting school behind their middle-class peers in terms  
          of academic skills, may be even further disadvantaged when  
          kindergarten is delayed.

          A 2005 study by the RAND Corporation titled "Delaying  
          Kindergarten:  Effects on Test Scores and Childcare Costs" found  
          that delaying kindergarten boosts standardized test scores in  
          math and reading.  However, the study also noted that delaying  
          kindergarten can have a negative economic effect on families by  
          imposing additional childcare costs for families.  The report  
          suggests that "policymakers may need to view entrance age  
          policies and childcare policies as a package."

          According to the Education Commission of the States, as of  
          August 2004 California was one of 5 states (Connecticut, Hawaii,  
          Michigan and Vermont) to have cut-off dates between December 1  
          and January 1.  Hawaii passed legislation to change the cut-off  
          date from December 31 to August 1, beginning with the 2006-07  
          school year.  Thirty six states have cut-off dates between  
          August 31 and October 16; four states have cut-off dates on or  
          before August 15; six states leave the entrance-age decision up  
          to local school districts.

           Kindergarten Readiness Program  .   This proposal to establish  
          kindergarten readiness programs is consistent with  
          recommendations from the SDE, research, and stakeholders to  
          ensure that children who are displaced by the change of birth  
          date are able to access education that will better prepare them  
          for kindergarten.  School districts or county offices of  


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          education are responsible for the administration of the  
          programs, which provide a better connection or link between  
          kindergarten readiness and kindergarten.  As employees of a  
          school district, teachers and associate teachers are required to  
          have minimum levels of education, including a newly established  
          Early Learning credential.  Districts are required to offer  
          kindergarten readiness programs in a child's attendance area,  
          but districts are also authorized to contract with private or  
          public providers to maximize the use of existing services and  
          facilities.  The bill also requires an evaluation on the  
          effectiveness of the program and requires a report by the  
          Superintendent to the Legislature and Governor every five years.

           Wrap-Around/Full Day Care  .  Kindergarten readiness classes are  
          required to provide three hours of instruction per day, similar  
          to kindergarten classes.  This bill encourages coordination of  
          services with full-day, full-year early care, and education  
          programs.  However, funds for wrap-around care for preschool  
          programs are limited.  In order to accommodate working parents,  
          the author should consider other options that will enable  
          kindergarten readiness programs to offer full day care.  
          Facilities  .  This bill specifies that kindergarten readiness  
          programs are eligible for school facilities funding, including  
          joint use funds available to public schools.  Authorizing bond  
          funds for preschool facilities may be more appropriate for the  
          deliberation of a 2008 education bond.    

           Compulsory education at 5 years of age  .  The County  
          Superintendents Educational Services Association states:  
          "Participation in kindergarten is more important now than ever  
          before.  AB 1236 requires children to attend school starting at  
          age five years old, beginning July 1, 2010.  Kindergarten and  
          Kindergarten Readiness set the foundation for early learning.   
          If children are not required to attend kindergarten, they miss  
          the fundamentals.  Without compulsory attendance at age five,  
          children will be that much farther behind when they are required  
          to attend 1st grade at age six years old."

           Arguments in Support  .  Preschool California states, "We support  
          AB 1236 because it ensures that all four year olds in California  
          would receive an effective pre-kindergarten experience.  It  
          builds a program that will achieve the child outcomes preschool  
          is now known for:  better vocabulary and language skills;  
          significantly higher reading scores on standardized tests  


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          through the sixth grade; increased high school graduation; fewer  
          referrals to special education; and less spending on prisons.   
          AB 1236 will achieve this by ensuring well trained and  
          compensated teachers, articulation with kindergarten,  
          developmentally appropriate standards and assessments, and  

          The Superintendent of Rosedale Union School District, Jamie  
          Henderson, states: "As a public educator for 35 years I would  
          agree that moving the starting date for kindergarten to a  
          September 1 cut-off would have huge support form the educational  
          community.  It would also put our start date more in line with  
          other states in our country.

          I realize that there have been other bills in the past that have  
          attempted to move the kindergarten start date back.  It is  
          critical that the Legislature act upon this as it is in the best  
          interest of our entering students."

           Arguments in Opposition  .  Opponents state that parents should  
          have the choice of enrolling or not enrolling their children in  
          kindergarten at age 5.  The Seventh-day Adventist Church states  
          that, "Seventh-day Adventists have long believed that the  
          parents in the home are the best educators for young children.   
          We place a very strong emphasis on religious and moral training,  
          as well as academic excellence.  

          As a matter of religious faith, many Seventh-day Adventist  
          parents choose a hands-on approach to their children's  
          education.  AB 1236 would conflict with their religious beliefs.  
           While we recognize that there are reasons to enroll children in  
          kindergarten at the age of five, this decision should be  
          voluntary, not compelled by the state." 

           Related legislation  .  AB 571 (Jones), also on today's agenda,  
          requires access to preschool programs for three- and  
          four-year-old children from low-income families by 2011-12.

          AB 683 (Sharon Runner), also on today's agenda, moves up the  
          date by which a child must be 5 to enroll in kindergarten and 6  
          to enroll in first grade, holds districts harmless for loss of  
          pupil enrollment, and states legislative intent to provide  
          displaced children with kindergarten readiness programs.

           Prior legislation  .  AB 2596 (S. Runner), was a similar bill,  


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          except that the bill required any savings to be allocated to the  
          State Department of Education to provide reimbursement for child  
          care and development services for eligible (low-income)  
          families.  The bill also made kindergarten compulsory.  The bill  
          was held by the Assembly Appropriations Committee in 2006.

          SB 1764 (George Runner), also changes the age of admission to  
          kindergarten, but requires any savings realized by these changes  
          to be appropriated to increase access to preschool programs for  
          at-risk 4 year olds.  The bill was held by the Assembly  
                                                                 Appropriations Committee in 2006.

          AB 1394 (S. Runner), introduced in 2006, was identical to early  
          versions of AB 2596, but was never heard.

          AB 66 (Pavley) would have authorized 23 specified school  
          districts to operate a two-year kindergarten pilot program, a  
          component of which would have allowed a child who has had his or  
          her fifth birthday between September 1 and December 2 of the  
          school year to be admitted to year-one of the program with the  
          approval of the parent or guardian.  AB 66 was held on the  
          Assembly Appropriations Committee's suspense file in 2006.

          AB 2970 (Pavley) of 2004 would have authorized a school district  
          to offer kindergarten classes at different schoolsites within  
          the district for different lengths of time and authorized a  
          school district to change the age at which a child is admitted  
          to kindergarten.  AB 2970 was held on the Assembly  
          Appropriations Committee's suspense file.

          AB 810 (S. Runner) of 2003 would have moved up the dates by  
          which a child must be 5 years old to enroll in kindergarten and  
          6 years old to enroll in first grade.  AB 810 failed passage in  
          the Assembly Education Committee.

          AB 25 (Mazzoni), Chapter 1022, Statutes of 2000, created the  
          voluntary Kindergarten Readiness Pilot Program to test the  
          effectiveness of changing the kindergarten age of entry.   
          Beginning with the 2001-02 school year, participating school  
          districts could have required a child to be 5 years old before  
          September 1 to enroll in kindergarten.  AB 25 provided funding  
          to school districts to compensate for the temporary loss of  
          attendance caused by changing kindergarten enrollment dates, and  
          required school districts to provide pre-kindergarten  
          instruction as a condition of the receipt of that funding.  This  


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          pilot program has not been implemented because it was not  
          funded.  It is scheduled to sunset on January 1, 2011.

          AB 513 (Mazzoni) of 1999 would have moved up the dates by which  
          a child must be 5 years old to enroll in kindergarten and 6  
          years old to enroll in first grade, phased in the change  
          one-month at a time over 3 years, held districts harmless for  
          any loss of revenue caused by this change, required outreach,  
          made kindergarten mandatory, required an assurance that an  
          adequate number of preschool and child care spaces were  
          available from children who would have otherwise been in  
          kindergarten, and required an evaluation of the effects on  
          student performance.  AB 513 was held on the Assembly  
          Appropriations Committee's suspense file.

          AB 85 (G. Runner) of 1997 would have moved up the dates by which  
          a child must be 5 years old to enroll in kindergarten and 6  
          years old to enroll in first grade, phased in the change  
          one-month at a time over 3 years, and held districts harmless  
          for any loss of revenue caused by this change.  AB 85 failed  
          passage in the Assembly Education Committee.

          Governor Wilson's 1992 proposal (part of his proposed Budget) to  
          change the date for admission to kindergarten was not approved  
          due to concerns about the significant budget deficit.


          California County Superintendents Educational Services  
          Association (co-sponsor)
          California Teachers Association (co-sponsor)
          Advancement Project
          California Kindergarten Association
          California School Boards Association (if amended)
          First 5 Marin Children and Families Commission
          Junior Leagues of California State Public Affairs Committee
          Los Angeles Unified School District
          Preschool California
          Superintendent and a Board Member of the Rosedale Union School  



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          Independent Private Schools of California
          Seventh-day Adventist Church State Council
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Sophia Kwong Kim / ED. / (916) 319-2087