Kindergarten students in West Central Illinois will now be starting their schooling one year earlier.
According to reports from the Associated Press, the new law that went into effect in Illinois this week requires children to enter kindergarten by the time they are six years old, instead of the previous age of seven.
The change puts Illinois in line with most other states, according to Kimberly Lightford, a Maywood Democrat who sponsored the legislation. She pushed for the measure because though most children already start school before age seven, those who don’t are falling behind their peers.
Critics, however, derided the change as an unfunded mandate by the state while school funding is tight. Illinois hasn’t been able to fully fund the state aid it has promised to schools over the last several years.
The Illinois State Board of Education officials say possible increased costs are hard to estimate.