HB 97 (and HB 11)

HB 11 (Cynthia Thielen, (R)) and HB 97 ( Kyle Yamashita, (D)) would lower the age at which the State compels attendance at school from six to five. Senator Avery Chumley's proposal to lower the age of compulsory attendance (start) from six to three provoked my initial interest in the relation between institutional variables such as age of compulsory attendance, district size, per pupil budgets, and teacher credentials, on the one hand, and system performance, as measured by standardized test scores, juvenile arrest rates, and juvenile hospitalization rates, on the other hand. Smaller is better. Later is better.

To: House Education and Finance Committee members
From: Malcolm Kirkpatrick
In re: HB 97 (mandatory kindergarten)

Please DO NOT support HB 97 (mandatory kindergarten). HB 97 will increase the cost of State government, add to looming pension and health benefit obligations, and degrade overall system performance.

Increased CostsThe Hawaii DOE reported a 2006 fall enrollment of 180,728 and a 2007 fall enrollment of 179, 897 students, according to the NCES 2009 Digest of Education Statistics, table 34. Dividing by twelve grades, this gives about 15,000 students at each grade level. The DOE per pupil budget was more than $12,000 per pupil in the fiscal year 2006-2007, according to the NCES 2009 Digest of Education Statistics, table 183. This figure understates the total cost as it does not include pension and health benefit obligations to former and current system employees. Adding one more mandatory grade level will increase K-12 costs by $180 million (plus uncertain but large pension and health benefit costs).

Degraded PerformanceAcross the US there is a clear and strong relation between the age at which States compel attendance at school and NAEP 4th and 8th grade Reading and Math scores. States which compel attendance at age 7 or 8 have higher scores than States which compel attendance at age 5 or 6. Later is better. Early education may be important. Early compulsory attendance at school is counter-indicated.

Thank you for this opportunity to testify.

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