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Heavily debated legislation that would gradually roll back the cutoff date for children to be old enough to enter kindergarten won Assembly approval Tuesday and appeared headed to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk.

Senate Bill 1381 by Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, still needed a final vote in the Senate on the last night of the 2009-10 legislative session. The Senate approved an earlier version of the bill in June. Tuesday's Assembly vote was 41-13.

If enacted, the measure would roll back the cutoff date for the minimum age to enter kindergarten one month a year for three years in a row, culminating in a requirement that a kindergartner be 5 years old by Sept. 1 in the 2014-15 school year.

The measure, however, would also create a "transitional kindergarten" program that would, in effect, give some students two years of kindergarten experience before they enter first grade.


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