The Times published a front-page story over the weekend about efforts in Sacramento to make kindergarten mandatory. Right now, parents in California are not required to send their children to school until they’re 6 years old. In other words, mandatory schooling starts in first grade. The bill calls for mandatory kindergarten, though the age for mandatory schooling would still be 6.
State standards upped the seriousness of kindergarten in California, she said. "If they drew a picture and wrote a simple sentence about their picture and they used some high-frequency words and some sound spellings, that was sufficient" under state standards, Harmison said.
The state’s English-Language Arts kindergarten standards from 2000 state that students should “know about letters, words, and sounds. They apply this knowledge to read simple sentences.” They should also be able to “write words and brief sentences that are legible.” That meant they could “distinguish letters from words” and spell phonetically, based on how a word sounds. They didn’t necessarily need to be able to read a full sentence, but they could identify where the author’s name and a book’s title are on the page, and use pictures to contextualize the material.
And now, under current Common Core State Standards? “At this point, we have kindergarteners who must write to a specific writing prompt, and we expect them to produce anywhere from one to three sentences on a given topic. And we’re looking for beginning and ending punctuation,” Harmison said.