Early Entrance to Kindergarten and First Grade

Early Entrance to Kindergarten and First Grade

Students in the district must be five years old on or before August 1 in order to be enrolled in Kindergarten for the new school year. Further, students must successfully complete a credentialed Kindergarten program before entering First Grade.  However, there are times when a child may be best served entering school earlier than typical.  It is important to note that school entrance ages and birthdates are established by the state based on research about immediate school readiness and long-term academic and social outcomes experienced by most children.   As such, early entrance is not intended to be an exception to the birthdate deadline for children who are typically developing but miss the date by a few weeks, days, or even hours.   Rather, early entrance is for children who are significantly advanced cognitively and academically.  For more information, please review our Guide to Early Entrance.

Parents/guardians may refer a child for evaluation if the child will turn 5 between August 2 and December 31 (or 6 if applying for early entrance to First Grade). If the child’s birthday is between January 1 and July 31, the referral must come from a pediatrician, psychologist, or licensed Ohio educator with knowledge of the child’s cognitive and academic development.  Parents/guardians who must submit an application to the principal of their neighborhood school by March 31 for fall placement or November 1 for January placement. Applications after this date may not be processed.   The referral form is available here or from the school principal.

Once the referral and authorization to assess forms are received by the principal, they are sent on to the district administrator responsible for gifted education.  The administrator will schedule any necessary testing.  This testing will begin with a brief cognitive screener.  If the student earns a score of 112 or higher, they will be scheduled for additional assessment by the school psychologist.  If the student does not score. 112 or higher, the process will end, and the student will not be able to enter school early.

For those who continue to the next step of the evaluation, the child will meet with the school psychologist for further testing, including a cognitive assessment and an achievement test of reading, writing, math, and general knowledge.  The cognitive assessment will be normed based on the child’s age, and the achievement test will be normed for the student’s age and two years above.  The scores from these assessments are placed on the Iowa Acceleration Scale, a research-based tool approved by the Ohio Department of Education for this purpose.  In alignment with the critical measures on this instrument, students must have a minimum cognitive score of 115 and a combination of achievement scores to meet a minimum threshold to continue on in the process.  Those achievement scores are, on average, 90th percentile or higher compared to agemates and 50-75th percentile when normed two years above.

If the referred child meets the minimum ability and achievement criteria during testing, the principal will call an acceleration evaluation committee to conduct further review.  This team consists of the student’s principal, potential teacher(s), gifted specialist, parent/guardian, and any other relevant support specialists.   The team reviews the assessment data to look for patterns of strengths and needs.  They also complete rubrics or survey items to assess the student’s developmental, social, and emotional maturity.   This data is summarized using score tables embedded in the instruments to generate a placement recommendation.  The committee makes the final placement determination in light of the tool recommendation and other pertinent factors.  The decision is made by consensus of all committee members; in the event consensus cannot be reached, decision is made by a majority vote.