Raleigh, N.C. — Four-year-old Riley Adcock knows how to count, her colors and her shapes.
You'd think she would be ready for kindergarten, but she will likely spend another year in day care at Kiddie Academy of Brier Creek in Raleigh because she missed the cut-off date to be able to start school – by seven "very expensive" days.
Riley's mother wishes she could drop the day care expense sooner rather than later.
"She was going to be here, that was the plan," her mother, Ashley Adcock said. "But with the economy, things are changing. It's up in the air. I don't know what we're going to be able to do."
This is the first year children are affected by a change in state law that makes only children who will turn 5 years old on or by Aug. 31 eligible to register.
The revised law moves the legal school-entry age up from Oct. 16 in an effort to reduce dropout rates in later grades and to make sure students are ready for formal school when they begin kindergarten.
"This was an effort to make sure every child gets a great start in kindergarten," Dr. June Atkinson, state superintendent of public instruction, said. "And one thing that's disturbing about our statistics is (that) we are seeing a rise in students retained in kindergarten."
The change means some day cares are adjusting their curriculums, since they will have more 5-year-olds in their centers instead of in school.
"Our older 4-year-olds, the kids who will be returning for a second year, the teacher in there does draw from our 5's curriculum," said Linda Plaisted, with Kiddie Academy. "Our company does have curriculum geared toward 5-year-olds. We are implementing that now."
Parents with children who miss the Aug. 31 cutoff can seek a waiver. In Wake County, the student has to take an aptitude test and an achievement test and have a score considered to be academically gifted. He or she also has his or her behavior observed and needs letters of recommendation from preschool teachers.