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HomeLanguage NewsnewsCalifornia Bill Requiring Kindergarten Exempts Early English Testing

California Bill Requiring Kindergarten Exempts Early English Testing

Parallel California Assembly (2226) and Senate (1056) Bills have been introduced that would require children to attend one year of kindergarten before enrolling in first grade, beginning with the 2026-2027 school year. An accompanying Assembly Bill (2268) would expressly state that the requirement for pupils in kindergarten to be assessed in English listening and speaking does not include pupils in transitional kindergarten.

Currently, kindergarten is not required for students in California, but it is considered a grade level, is factored in calculating average daily attendance (ADA), and is included in the academic content standards, curriculum frameworks, and instructional materials. However, attendance in kindergarten is not mandatory, and compulsory education laws begin at age six.

“We know the achievement gap is present before children attend first grade. California is making substantial investments in pre-kindergarten programs, including transitional kindergarten (TK) and the California State Preschool Program (CSPP), providing opportunities for children to have two years of high-quality early education before entering first grade. To fully realize this goal, we must ensure that all children attend kindergarten to build the foundational skills and knowledge necessary to support their ongoing academic and social-emotional success,” said Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, who introduced the bill.

“As a public school teacher for over 17 years, I have witnessed firsthand the detrimental impact on young students who miss out on fundamental early education,” said Senator Susan Rubio. “The voluntary participation for kindergarten leaves students unprepared for the educational environment they will encounter in elementary school. Recent data from the California Research Bureau shows that the majority of students who are not enrolled in kindergarten are Latino, creating an equity issue throughout the state and worsening the already troubling achievement gap. We have a responsibility to uplift all children in our community and ensure all students reach their full potential. This will only happen if every child is enrolled in kindergarten.”

“Research shows that Kindergarten is an essential part of a young student’s development. This critical early instruction and socialization serves as an important tool in reducing chronic absenteeism and sets a strong foundation for every child, particularly our most disadvantaged students. This is the right investment for the State of California and the State cannot wait any longer to enact this law to support every child with the opportunity to enter first grade with the tools they need to succeed. Los Angeles Unified is proud to be a sponsor of this important bill. We look forward to continuing to partner with Senator Rubio, Assemblymember Muratsuchi and other state leaders to pursue policies in the best interest of children,” said Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho.

“Mandating students to attend kindergarten prior to entering the first grade will ensure all students receive high-quality academic, social, linguistic and developmentally-appropriate learning experiences,” explained Martha Hernández, executive director, Californians Together.

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