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Gov. Ivey signs bill to make kindergarten mandatory

On Wednesday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) signed controversial legislation that would require a six year to either be held back and attend kindergarten or be forced to pass a skills test to show that he or she is competent in kindergarten level work in order to attend first grade with his or her peers.

House Bill 113, the First Grade Readiness Bill, was sponsored by State Rep. Pebblin Warren (D-Tuskegee). The bill was carried in the Alabama Senate by Senator Donnie Chesteen (R-Dothan).

This new law provides for a readiness assessment be giver ot first graders who did not attend kindergarten.

"The First Grade Readiness Bill is a strategic and thoughtful approach to early education in Alabama," said Gov. Ivey in a statement. "This is common sense legislation – no child should start behind. By taking proactive steps now to lay a strong foundation from the very beginning, we will not be forced to make reactive moves later. Our children deserve no less than our best efforts right from the start."

HB113 passed the Alabama Legislature with bipartisan support. The goal of the bill is to bridge the educational gaps evident in early grades. The readiness assessment, developed by the Alabama State Department of Education, will measure crucial developmental and physical skills necessary for first grade. Students who have completed kindergarten will be exempt from having to take this testing.

Warren has worked on this legislation for years.

"I applaud Governor Ivey for supporting and signing HB 113," said Rep. Warren. "After years of work on this subject, I was determined not to give up on our kids! This new law will ensure students are truly prepared to enter the first grade. I'm confident this will strengthen our education system and prevent future retention among our younger students."

The readiness assessment will first be administered in the 2025-2026 school year.

Schools will not be able to deny a parent's request that their child be allowed to attend first grade with their peers until the 2026-2027 school years.

Only 19 states currently require children to attend kindergarten.

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