Early Entrance Requests - First Grade
Arlington Heights School District 25 complies with Illinois law which specifies that to enter first grade, children must be six years of age by September 1st of their first grade year. However, District 25 allows exceptions to this law for children whose potential and skills are in the very superior range when compared with their peers.
District 25 has identified early entrance to first grade as whole-grade acceleration, appropriate for those students who are intellectually and socially advanced. District 25 is responsible for determining whether a child is appropriate for early entrance, and the school district will complete all necessary assessments.
The decision for children to enter school early can have a profound effect on their academic and social performance for the remainder of their school career. It is a decision that needs to be taken very seriously. Research indicates that early entrance and/or early reading ability is not a predictor of continued high achievement in the future. The foundational skills that students develop in preschool and kindergarten are essential to continued success in school, for both academic and social-emotional development.
Students who skip kindergarten may demonstrate adaptive and social-emotional differences from peers who enter at the age-appropriate time due to their relative physical and emotional immaturity. As they progress through school, children who are young for their grade level may have more difficulty fitting in with their peers in social situations. The impact on extra-curricular activities that place students based on age or grade alone should also be considered.
To be considered for grade acceleration, students must demonstrate advanced characteristics in cognitive, academic, functional and social-emotional domains. District 25 utilizes a systematic process that involves review of records, standardized assessment, and other components for determination. Very few children who complete the process meet the criteria to enter first grade early.
Requesting Early Entrance to First Grade
To be eligible for consideration for early entrance to first grade, the child must:
- Turn six years old by December 31st of the school year for which they are seeking entrance,
- Have completed one year of kindergarten in a non-public school, and
- Received the highest ratings from his/her kindergarten teacher.
Parents/guardians wishing to apply for early entrance for their child must:
- Contact their building principal,
- Provide a copy of the student’s birth certificate,
- Visit the residency requirements page on the district website for more information about how to verify residency and to download the Verification of Residency Form that must be submitted,
- Complete the Early Entrance Request Form:
- If parents have a gmail account, they may open the Early Entrance Request Form and complete the requested information.
- If parents do not have a gmail account or prefer to hand write the information, they may access the form as a pdf of the Early Entrance Request Form. Please print and hand write your answers or type in your responses using Adobe Acrobat, Preview, etc.
- Once parents have completed the Early Entrance Request Form, they should print and submit it to the building principal along with the other required documents listed below no later than April 15th.
- Provide a copy of a report card or other rating document from current school placement,
- Sign a Release of Information Form to allow District 25 to communicate with the child’s current school, and
- Return the above documents to the building principal by April 15 of the school year prior to the school year for which early entrance is sought. All documents must be received before the student can be considered for early entrance.
Early Entrance Assessment and Decision-Making Process
Based on a review of the information provided above, District 25 will determine if the child should participate in an evaluation for grade advancement.
- District 25 completes a screening of academic skills in reading and math. The child must score above the 90th percentile on end-of-year curriculum-based measurements at the first grade level. If child meets screening criteria, a cognitive assessment will be administered.
- Students who speak a second language or who have a second language present in the home will participate in a language screener to determine English proficiency.
- District 25 completes an individual assessment of student intelligence. The child must score in the 130 or higher range of intelligence as measured by an individually administered cognitive assessment. District 25 does not accept private cognitive evaluations.
If the student meets criteria on the academic screener AND the intelligence assessment:
- District 25 will administer a standardized academic achievement assessment. The child must receive a standardized score above 121, using first grade norms.
- The child must demonstrate above average social-emotional development. This may be determined by interview, observation in the current school placement, and/or behavior rating scales completed by District 25 staff.
Based on the completed evaluation, and any additional data provided by parents, District 25 will make a decision regarding the appropriate grade placement.
Children who are accepted for early entrance will be enrolled on a probationary basis. The school staff will assess each child’s initial adjustment to school during the first 20-30 school days. If a child’s initial adjustment is not satisfactory, District 25 will require that the child be moved to kindergarten.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. If I choose to enroll my child in private kindergarten as a four year old, will he/she automatically be eligible for first grade the following year?
- No. To be considered for early entrance to first grade, children who turn six after September1st will have to participate in the above assessment process and meet the early entrance requirements.
2. Why do children applying for early entrance have to be assessed when other children entering school do not?
- Children who turn six on or before September 1st are age-eligible according to Illinois state law and therefore entitled to enter first grade. A child whose birth date falls between September 1st and December 31st may be considered for early entrance to first grade, but must meet the district’s criteria outlined above.
3. Is early entrance the best choice for my child? Please consider the following:
- The intent of the early entrance process is to offer a stimulating academic and social environment for students who are capable of excelling in a classroom setting with children one year older.
- The standards for early entrance are high to ensure that students are not frustrated by their advanced placement.
- It is important to consider your child’s social-emotional strengths and development when considering grade advancement.
4. What are the assessors looking for in the assessments?
- Children cannot study or prepare for developmental readiness. Assessments include a variety of activities that measure each child’s progress in the following developmental domains:
- Intellectual development
- Academic skills and/or readiness
- Personal/social readiness