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195Type of Legislation: General Bill GBIntroducing Body: SenateIntroduced Date: 20010124Primary Sponsor: McConnellAll Sponsors: McConnell and LeventisDrafted Document Number: l:\council\bills\gjk\20028sd01.docResiding Body: SenateCurrent Committee: Education Committee 04 SEDSubject: School districts, children entering kindergarten or first grade, age required for attendance, challenge test provisionsHistory Body Date Action Description Com Leg Involved ______ ________ ______________________________________ _______ ____________ Senate 20010124 Introduced, read first time, 04 SED referred to Committee Versions of This Bill
TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTION 59-63-25 SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS A PARENT OR GUARDIAN WHOSE CHILD OR WARD WILL REACH THE AGE OF FOUR, FIVE, OR SIX BEFORE THE END OF DECEMBER OF A PARTICULAR SCHOOL YEAR MAY ELECT TO HAVE THAT CHILD BEGIN FOUR-YEAR-OLD KINDERGARTEN, FIVE-YEAR-OLD KINDERGARTEN, OR THE FIRST GRADE AS APPLICABLE IF IN THE PARENT'S OR GUARDIAN'S OPINION THE CHILD IS PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY READY TO BEGIN THAT GRADE, TO PROVIDE THAT BEGINNING IN SCHOOL YEAR 2002-2003 A CHILD WHOSE BIRTHDAY FALLS BEFORE THE END OF DECEMBER MAY TAKE A "CHALLENGE TEST" ADMINISTERED AND DEVELOPED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE CHILD IS INTELLECTUALLY PREPARED TO BEGIN KINDERGARTEN OR FIRST GRADE THAT YEAR AS MAY BE APPLICABLE, TO PROVIDE THAT THE AGE RESTRICTIONS OF SECTION 59-63-20 DO NOT APPLY TO A CHILD WHO PASSES THE "CHALLENGE TEST", TO PROVIDE THAT A SCHOOL DISTRICT IS ENTITLED TO STATE AID FOR ANY STUDENT WHO IS ENROLLED PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION, AND TO PROVIDE FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF REGULATIONS TO ADMINISTER THE PROGRAM.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. The 1976 Code is amended by adding:
"Section 59-63-25. (A) Until school year 2002-2003 begins, a parent or guardian whose child or ward will reach the age of four, five, or six before the end of December may elect to have that child begin four-year-old kindergarten, five-year-old kindergarten, or the first grade as applicable if in the parent's or guardian's opinion the child is physically and mentally ready to begin that grade. A child may only enroll to begin a grade that they would have been eligible to begin if their birthday was on or before September first of that school year.
(B) Beginning in school year 2002-2003, the Department of Education must administer at the parent's or guardian's request an advanced 'challenge test' for a child or ward who will reach the age of four, five, or six before the end of December, if in the opinion of the parent or guardian the child is mentally and physically ready to begin that grade. The 'challenge test' must evaluate whether the child is intellectually prepared to begin school. If the child passes the 'challenge test' the child may begin that grade. A child who passes the 'challenge test' may only enroll to begin a grade that they would have been eligible to begin if their birthday was on or before September first of that school year.
(C) A parent's or guardian's decision for a child to begin kindergarten or the first grade early as permitted by subsections (A) or (B) may not be overturned by a local board of trustees. The parent or guardian, however, must sign a written document making this election with the governing body of the school district in which the child will attend school. The form of this written document must be prescribed by regulation of the Department of Education. Upon the written election being executed, that child or ward may attend four-year-old kindergarten, five-year-old kindergarten, or the first grade as applicable.
(D) A school district is entitled to receive state aid for any student who is enrolled in kindergarten or first grade pursuant to this section.
(E) The Department of Education must implement such regulations as necessary to administer this program through local school districts. The department must develop the standardized 'challenge tests' and set the passing scores for each test. The Department of Education may charge a reasonable fee to be paid by the parent or guardian for administering the test. No child may have more than two opportunities to pass a 'challenge test'.
(F) The provisions of Section 59-63-20 do not apply to a child who enrolls in kindergarten or school early pursuant to this section."
SECTION 2. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
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