• Is Early Entrance to Kindergarten the Best Choice for Your Child?

    Acceleration State of Ohio 

    Early entrance to kindergarten is a subject typically addressed through gifted education. It is covered in the State of Ohio’s Model Student Acceleration Policy. According to the Ohio Revised Code (3324.01), “gifted” means students who perform or show potential for performing at remarkably high levels of accomplishment when compared to others of their age, experience, or environment and who are identified under Division (A), (B), (C), or (D) of Section 3324.03 of the Revised Code. 


    A unique type of whole-grade acceleration is early entrance (i.e., kindergarten or first grade). For academically talented young children, early entrance to school may be an excellent option. There is abundant evidence that bright children who are carefully selected for early entrance generally perform very well, both academically and socially (A Nation Deceived: how Schools Hold Back America’s Brightest Students, 2004). 


    Early entrance should be viewed as a means of meeting a child’s needs. The key to determining whether or not early entrance is appropriate for a child is developmental readiness. Even though a child may have a lot of ability, s/he may not be ready for kindergarten. Social maturity, personal development, and motor development are very important factors for a child’s success in school. 


    Early entrance is designed for the exceptional child who is both academically ready as well as developmentally mature when compared to others his or her chronological age. This opportunity is designed as a measure to meet individual differences in school readiness.


    Some considerations when determining if early entrance is right for a child:

    • Is my child capable of working in a classroom setting with children who are one year older than him or her?

    • Will my child be frustrated by this placement?

    • What are the possible long-term impacts for my child as s/he progresses through elementary, middle and high school (e.g., beginning college at a younger age or physical size for athletics).

    • Early entrance is not designed as a replacement for child care. Is this a need or a want?

    • Do I understand the expectations for students in kindergarten today? 


    There is a difference between ability and achievement. Some children may appear exceptional simply because of their access to opportunities (e.g., preschool programs, parents working with them on skills, or access to learning materials). Early entrance is designed for the child who not only has ability but easily achieves when presented new material. 


    Once the decision has been made for early entrance, the choice is difficult to reverse. If a child is evaluated as a good candidate for early entrance to kindergarten, it is important that all stakeholders are supportive of the decision. 


    What to look for in the areas of ability/achievement/aptitude/behavior? 

    • My child seems advanced beyond other children his/her age in these ways:

    • Understands the meanings and use of words better than children; 

    • Is curious about many things and asks questions often; 

    • Is very good at working puzzles or solving problems; 

    • Has a great sense of humor and understands jokes more than other children his/her age; 

    • Has a good memory and remembers details of conversations or stories; 

    • Is interested in difficult concepts such as time and space; 

    • Concentrates on certain activities much longer than other children his/her age; 

    • Reads (and understands text) in picture books or chapter books; 

    • Figures out math-related problems better than other children his/her age. 

    • Has excellent fine motor skills when compared with other agemates (e.g. can write letters uppercase and lowercase).

    • Before the age of 7 is a critical time for developing basic movement skills, coordination, balance, and strong bones and muscles. Early entrance into kindergarten will place your child into sports with children who are a year older both mentally and physically.


    Ohio Department of Education Website 

    Parents can easily access more information about Kindergarten on the Ohio Department of Education website - http://www.ode.state.oh.us.


    • ODE > Topics > Early Learning > Kindergarten 

    • ODE > search for: “Academic Acceleration for Advanced Learners” 

    • ODE > search for: “Kindergarten Readiness Checklist” 

    • ODE > search for: “The Young Gifted Child” 

    • ODE > Early Learning > Kindergarten > Ohio’s Kindergarten Readiness Assessment > Kindergarten Readiness Assessment for Families


    Jackson Local School District’s Kindergarten Program 

    Kindergarten in Jackson Local School District is a full day program. The school day runs from 9:00 a.m. until 3:15 p.m. Students are expected to participate in the academic program throughout the day.


    It is important for parents to know about Ohio's Third Grade Reading Guarantee. This guarantee is a requirement to identify students from kindergarten through grade 3 who are behind in reading. The ability to read is the foundation of learning. Research shows that children who are not reading at a third-grade level by the end of grade 3 are likely to have trouble learning in all classroom subjects in higher grades.


    Each year, districts and schools must administer the reading diagnostic by Sept. 30 for grades 1-3 and during the first 20 days of instruction for kindergarten students. The results of the reading diagnostic determine whether a child is on-track or not on-track in reading. A child is on-track, or reading at or above grade level, at the beginning of each grade if the child is reading at the level set by Ohio’s Learning Standards for the end of the previous grade. Students in grade 3 must meet a minimum reading score. If that score is not met, the student will be retained in grade 3.


    Jackson Local School District’s Procedure


    Age Eligibility 

    The Jackson Local School District considers a child eligible for entrance into “regular” kindergarten if s/he attains the age of five on or before August 1 of the year s/he applies for entrance. A child under the age of six (6) who is enrolled in kindergarten will be considered of compulsory school age.


    Early Admission Request 

    By parental request a child may be tested for early admission to kindergarten if he/she will be five (5) years of age between August 2 and January 1, inclusive, and exhibit the academic, mental, social and emotional standards established by the Jackson Local Board of Education. If your child turns 5 years of age after January 1 and you believe he/she is a viable candidate for early entrance, please contact the school your child will be attending.


    The Application and Evaluation Process

    • Most early entrance evaluations are completed in the early spring concurrently with the kindergarten enrollment process. If you believe that your child may be a good candidate for early entrance, please complete pages 7-10


    • Once the application has been completed, return it to the school your child would attend no later than May 1 in the year for which admission is being requested. Evaluations will be coordinated through the Gifted Services Department. 


    • Parents will be called to schedule an individual intelligence assessment for their child with a school psychologist. The Stanford Binet, 5th Edition is used for ability testing. Students must score at least one standard deviation above the mean on intelligence assessment. If the child does not meet the criteria of scoring a 115 on the cognitive ability test, then the process stops. If the child meets the criteria of scoring a 115, then achievement testing will be scheduled. 


    • NWEA MAP is the achievement assessment given in reading. Students need to score at or above the 75th percentile. A basic math screener will also be administered. The team does consider requirements of the Third Grade Reading Guarantee in reviewing the achievement scores.


    • While some children may be cognitively ready for kindergarten, they may not be developmentally ready. Students are also given a developmental screening. This information is needed to assess the social and emotional skills necessary to be successful in a school environment.


    • Preschool information will be taken into consideration by the team. An observation by a district representative (elementary guidance counselor and/or school psychologist) in a preschool setting may need to be scheduled for your child. Parents will be contacted if this observation is needed. 


    • Once the evaluations are completed, an acceleration evaluation committee will convene for the purpose of conducting a fair and thorough evaluation of the child. This committee should include the following: 

      • the home school principal 
      • a gifted education coordinator
      • a parent or legal guardian of the referred student or a representative designated by a parent or legal guardian of the referred student 
      • a school psychologist
      • a gifted services teacher
      • a school counselor


    • Our evaluation team will issue a written notification of its recommendations for early entrance. The deadline for written notification of the outcome of the evaluation process is 45 days after the submission of the referral. Within 30 days of being notified of the committee’s decision, parents may submit a written appeal to the Superintendent or his/her designee regarding the outcome of the evaluation process.


    • The team will err on the side of caution and recommend that a child wait another year should there be any concerns. Our goal is to ensure that a child’s first exposure to school is successful.


    • For successful candidates, a Written Acceleration Plan (WAP) shall be completed prior to the accelerated setting. It shall include strategies to support a successful transition.


    • The Iowa Acceleration Scale (IAS) will be followed for students requesting early entrance after January 1.


    • The Early Entrance to kindergarten process shall be reviewed annually by the Early Entrance to Kindergarten Committee.


    IMPORTANT:  Please make sure you proceed with child care arrangements as a contingency. If you are selecting a preschool program, please understand that those programs routinely fill up quickly. Please register your child as you normally would, but let the preschool office know that your child is being screened for early entrance to kindergarten.


    Click here for the application packet. Return pages 7-10 to the school your child would attend.