"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Friday, March 20, 2009

Early Entrance to Kindergarten

On September 18, 2008, in discussion with our administration, we asked what the procedure was for granting waivers for students to enter kindergarten if their birthdays were after the cutoff date. The administration responded that the state cutoff date was September 1 and that our school system does not give waivers. I was pretty sure this was not true since we had a student in our school who was given a waiver.

After the meeting I looked it up. The cutoff date for the State of Indiana is August 1, and we did have a student who had been granted a waiver for early entrance (signed, by the way, by the administrator who told us that "we do not give waivers").

The following week I sent the administration a copy of the waiver for the student at our school. There was no reason given for his early admission other than the comments by the child's mother on his waiver application. Among the reasons given was, "He know his ABC."

On February 19, 2009, having heard nothing in response to our proof that early entrance waivers were, indeed, granted by our school system, we brought it up in Discussion once more. This time we were told that it was not a problem at all schools in the system. It was a unique situation.

Data gathered during February and March 2009 from our elementary schools (9 of which have kindergarten classes) showed that a total of 18 students across the district were given early entrance waivers for the 2008-2009 school year.

Kindergarten registration for next year is over. Currently there are a total of 13 waivers for early entrance for the 2009-2010 school year in three of the 9 schools. There are likely more...we have not heard back from all the schools with kindergartens.

This is hardly a situation unique to one elementary school.

March 19, 2009, the above information was presented to the administration during the March Discussion meeting. The following information was also presented.

Research on early entrance to kindergarten is mixed, but according to the Davidson Institute for Talent Development,
"...at least through elementary school, those children whose birthdays are later in the school year tend to fall short in all indices [grades, achievement test scores, referrals to psychologists and grade retentions]...

"One can conclude that early admission is almost certainly not a bad idea and may even be helpful when selection is careful and admissions criteria relatively stringent (emphasis added)..."
From the National Association of School Psychologists:
"Research on early entrance to kindergarten has shown that [it can be successful], when the early entrants, whether boys or girls, have superior intelligence..."
School systems around the country have stringent requirements for early entrance to kindergarten. The procedures from a neighboring school system were presented. They are:

1. All parents requesting an early entrance waiver for their child must complete two forms with information about their child.
2. Preschool information, if available, is requested.
3. An individual assessment is done with each child which includes literacy and math skills.
4. A group assessment in the form of a "mock kindergarten" is held where adults can observe the children in a classroom setting.

We also reminded the administration that students who are placed in kindergarten before they are ready would likely need interventions, be involved in psychological testing, and be candidates for retention in grade. All these options cost the district money.

It does the child no favor to put him/her in a situation which is developmentally inappropriate.

We're not asking that early entrances to kindergarten be eliminated, rather that the district provide some means of assessing the readiness for kindergarten of children whose parents request early entrance.

1 comment:

Meg said...

Sounds like a dinner conversation I just had.

I'm with you. This is not right.