Academic Acceleration for Advanced Learners
A child must be five years old by September 30 to be eligible for regular entrance into kindergarten. Early entrance is granted when a four-year old who does not meet the district age requirement is evaluated and determined to meet eligibility criteria by the school district in which the child lives.
In rare instances, a four-year old would be eligible for early entrance to kindergarten. This child is very likely already reading, counting, and categorizing, and is developmentally advanced in thinking skills, language acquisition, and quantitative reasoning. This child is also advanced in personal development and emotional maturity.
Early entrance is a form of grade acceleration, under the category of giftedness. Therefore, the acceleration team is not simply looking to see if a child is ready for kindergarten; the team is investigating to determine if a child is ready to accelerate a year ahead of his/her peers.
Parents need to consider that early entrance is a decision that will impact the child throughout the school experience, not just for a year or two. When accelerated children enter the middle grades or junior school, they may find their peers may be more physically developed, which may be a disadvantage for grade-based physical activities and school sports teams. Socially, same-grade peers may also have broader parental permission regarding social activities. Challenges may occur in high school as peers may have a driver’s license or begin to date when the accelerated student is not eligible at that time. Parents must also consider that entrance to college will follow earlier than traditionally expected, and the student will require profound maturity to effectively face adult decisions and potential pressures.
REFERRAL AND EVALUATION PROCESS
A parent may request early admission to kindergarten if the child turns age 5 after the district’s kindergarten entrance date (September 30) and before January 1 of the school year for which admission is requested. Referrals for students with birthdays after January 1 must be made by an educator within the district, the building principal, a preschool educator, a pediatrician or a psychologist who knows the child.
Referred students will be administered initial assessments of reading and math aptitude and achievement by a district school psychologist. Children who meet the minimum score requirement will be invited to schedule an appointment for a cognitive ability assessment. The results will be reviewed by the Acceleration Evaluation Committee using a state approved tool such as the Iowa Acceleration Scale to determine the appropriateness of Early Entrance for the student. The Acceleration Evaluation Committee will share the determination with parents.
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