MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) — Students may be required to go to kindergarten starting next school year. That’s according to a bill approved by the Alabama House Education Committee on Wednesday.

HB43 requires students either complete kindergarten or demonstrate first-grade readiness through an assessment approved by the Alabama State Board of Education.

It also lets local school boards admit 4-year-olds to kindergarten under certain circumstances. The child would have to turn five between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31 that school year.

Some lawmakers brought concerns that this bill would result in an influx of 4-year-olds entering kindergarten who may struggle because they would be developmentally behind their 5- or 6-year-old classmates.

Bill sponsor Rep. Pebblin Warren (D- Tuskegee) said parents do not have to send their child under five to kindergarten under this bill, but it would be an option.

Warren said this change would give students a strong foundation in learning.

“I think the earlier we start, and all research, documentation shows, the earlier, the better,” Warren said.

If passed, it’s estimated the number of kindergarteners could increase by up to 4,000.