Lawmakers look to change compulsory school age from 6 to 5 - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Lawmakers look to change compulsory school age from 6 to 5

Kindergarteners at Jeff Davis Elementary listen to Stephanie Stokes read before lunch. (Photo source: WLOX News) Kindergarteners at Jeff Davis Elementary listen to Stephanie Stokes read before lunch. (Photo source: WLOX News)
Kindergarten teacher Stephanie Stokes agrees with the amendment.  (Photo source: WLOX News) Kindergarten teacher Stephanie Stokes agrees with the amendment. (Photo source: WLOX News)
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

State lawmakers are looking to change the compulsory school age from 6 to 5.

Rep. Sonya Williams-Barnes authored an amendment to House Bill 567 that would make it requirement. Teachers at Jeff Davis Elementary in Biloxi think the change would benefit students.

"I think it would allow parents to push them to know, 'Hey my child is getting ready for school. These are the necessary steps I need to take to make sure my child is successful,'" said kindergarten teacher Stephanie Stokes. 

According to Barnes, studies have shown the earlier children start school and get into a formal learning environment, the more successful they will be. 

Because kindergarten is not a requirement in Mississippi, first grade teacher Kariane McKee notices an immediate difference between her students who attended and those who did not. 

She says by the time a child leaves first grade they should be reading fluently. The later a child starts school, the more difficult that goal is to achieve. 

"I can tell the ones that have went to kindergarten. They've been exposed to reading, they know their letters, they know their sounds, they know their numbers," said McKee. "I've had some that didn't go to kindergarten. I have to expose them to all of that because they haven't had it."

Under the bill, a child must be enrolled in an educational program - not necessarily a public school - if they turn 5 years old before Sept. 1. It is now headed to the Senate and needs the governor's signature to become law.

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