Todd Elder is an MSU economist. He says it's true that test scores for Catholic school students are better than for public school students. But Elder says that gap is wider in Kindergarten than it is in the eighth grade.
One in every nine kids in Michigan public schools repeated kindergarten, according to Michigan Department of Education data for the year 2010-11. That means the state pays an additional $7,000 per child every year, ultimately costing taxpayers $93 million.
Ron French, senior writer with Bridge Magazine has been investigating this story and found that the likelihood of a child repeating kindergarten was most closely linked, not to race or family income, but geography. In the article, he also writes about “planned retention," meaning parents actually plan to have a child do two years of kindergarten instead of one.
For now, four-year-olds in Michigan can enroll in kindergarten as long as they turn five by December 1, but that may change over the next few years as legislators consider when kids are socially mature enough to enter school.
The Michigan House of Representatives passed a bill yesterday that would gradually change the age requirement of kindergarten enrollees over the course of three years.
This spring, parents across the state will enroll their kids in kindergarten. In the Montague Area Public School district, parents will be asked to list 5 colleges they’d like to see their 4-or-5-year-olds eventually attend.
“Before their children walk through our doors for the first time, we want to plant that seed. We want to create an excitement with parents so that they are considering college from day one.”