BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - There could be 200 to 600 more kindergarten students entering the Buffalo school system next school year if a new law is signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo requiring 5-year-olds to attend.
“We think it’s going to become much more automatic for families to think in terms of ‘my 5-year-old is going to kindergarten’ rather than even contemplating first grade being their entrance into the school district,” said Buffalo Interim School Superintendent Dr. Will Keresztes.
Parents would still have the option to wait until their child is 6 and bypass kindergarten, according to the legislation sponsored by State Senator Mark Grisanti and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes. However, Grisanti says there would be new tests administered to determine if that child is prepared for first grade. If not, the student would then be required to attend kindergarten.
The law awaits the signature of Governor Cuomo.
The news didn’t come as a surprise to administrators and staff at the Grabiarz Campus School in Buffalo. The Pre-k through 8th grade school has a well-managed kindergarten curriculum, adhering to the new Common Core standards. There is 90 percent attendance rate and children are challenged and eager to learn.
“The sooner we give our kids the opportunity to expand language [skills], we increase their probability of being more successful academically in the long term,” said Gregory Mott, the school’s principal.
At his school, he says the 5-year-old students are “like sponges.” He says they really want to learn and are eager in class to ask questions. There is a strong emphasis on reading and basic math skills.
Grabiarz teacher Anne Marie Lange said, “Kindergarten isn’t the same as it was 10, even five years ago. There’s a lot more expected of the kids and we really need them here.”
The new law would make kindergarten attendance mandatory in Buffalo. Peoples-Stokes believes this will better prepare students for first grade and will lead to higher graduation rates in the future.