It’s official: Soon California will only open the gates to kindergarten for kids who have turned five years old by Sept. 1, moving up current cutoff date from early December.

The new law, signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger yesterday, is meant to ensure that children enter kindergarten more prepared. The idea behind the law is that older kindergarteners will be more mature and ready to handle school, giving them a better start for their whole school careers.

Children who are slightly too young for kindergarten will get an extra year of public schooling — a new grade called transitional kindergarten — and then go to kindergarten. The change will be gradual: The kindergarten cutoff date will move to November in 2012, October in 2013, and finish up at September in 2014.

Want to learn more? Read our article about the worries over kindergarten readiness that led to this bill or get more of the background from blogger John Fensterwald. You can also check out this interesting letter from reader Jamie Ginsberg about why she believes the switch could actually exacerbate inequalities in kindergarten.

Please contact Emily Alpert directly at or 619.550.5665 and follow her on Twitter:

Emily Alpert was formerly the education reporter for Voice of San Diego.

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