Senate Bill 380: Lowering the Compulsory School Attendance Age to 4

New Mexico
New Mexico

Last Updated: April 17, 2013
Senate Bill 380: Lowering the Compulsory School Attendance Age to 4
Senator Linda M. Lopez

This bill would have changed the compulsory school attendance age in New Mexico to only 4 years old. The bill amended the definition of a school-age child to anyone who was 4 years old by September 1.

Senate Bill 380 would have applied to every 4-year-old child, including homeschoolers. This means that homeschool parents would have been required to begin reporting for their children one year earlier than they currently do.

Many 4-year-old children are not ready for school. Senate Bill 380 would have taken the decision of whether a child is ready for school out of parents’ hands and forced them to send their children to school. If Senate Bill 380 had passed, New Mexico would have had the youngest compulsory school attendance age in the country.

HSLDA's Position:

HSLDA was adamantly opposed to Senate Bill 380.

Action Requested:
None at this time

02/01/2013     (Senate)      Introduced
02/01/2013     (Senate)      Assigned to Senate Education Committee and Senate Finance Committee.
03/16/2013     (Senate)      Bill died when legislature closed.


Lowering the compulsory attendance age from 5 to 4 would have subjected New Mexico home educators to the requirements of the homeschool statute one year earlier than now required. (You do not need to share this reason with your legislators.)

According to the 2005 NAEP test scores, children from states that have low compulsory attendance ages (5-6) did not score any higher than children from the other states, and in some subjects their average was actually lower.

Many education experts have concluded that beginning a child’s formal education too early may actually result in burnout and poor scholastic performance later.

Lowering the compulsory attendance age erodes the authority of parents who are in the best position to determine when their child’s formal education should begin.

A report published February 6, 2007 by the Goldwater Institute examines Stanford 9 test scores and finds Arizona kindergarten programs initially improve learning but have no measurable impact on reading, math, or language arts test scores by 5th grade.

The data show that students in schools with all-day kindergarten programs have statistically significant higher 3rd-grade test scores, but there is no impact on 5th-grade scores. This finding is consistent with previous research. Forcing children into school early delivers short-term benefits at best.

 Other Resources

Bill Text

Bill History

Information on compulsory attendance laws and impact.