In the summer of 1997, the North Carolina General Assembly passed HB-1099, allowing early admission to Kindergarten of a child who has reached his/her fourth birthday by April 16 if the child demonstrates extraordinary academic ability and maturity.
If, after careful consideration, you decide that your child may be one of the few who will benefit from early entrance to kindergarten, then you will need to start compiling the necessary information. The legislation states that it is the responsibility of the parents/guardians to present information (including arranging and paying for any required testing) to the principal of the school to support that the child has extraordinary academic ability and is appropriately mature to justify early admission.
Standards for Early Admission to Kindergarten
The state of North Carolina has created standards for the principal to use in determining if a child is appropriate for early entrance to kindergarten. The standards include criteria in the following areas:
1. APTITUDE – The child shall score at the 98th percentile on a standard individual test of intelligence, such as the Stanford-Binet, the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence, the Kaufman Anderson, or any other comparable tests, that shall be administered by a licensed psychologist. The parent is responsible for arranging and paying for this test.
2. ACHIEVEMENT – The child shall score at the 98th percentile on either Reading or Mathematics on a standard test of achievement such as the Metropolitan Readiness Test, the Stanford Early School Achievement test, the Mini Battery of Achievement, the Woodcock-Johnson, the Test of Early Mathematics (TEMA), the Test of Early Reading Ability (TERA), or any other comparable tests that shall be administered by a licensed psychologist. The parent is responsible for arranging and paying for this test. NOTE: ALL TESTING MUST BE ADMINISTERED AFTER APRIL 16
3. PERFORMANCE – Children displaying a need to enter kindergarten early shall be able to perform tasks above their age peers. The parent shall submit a sample of student work showing outstanding examples of ability in any (not all) of the following areas: Art, Math, Writing, Dramatic Play, Creative Productions, Science, etc. For further indication of performance, the principal may instruct a teacher to complete an informal reading assessment.
4. OBSERVABLE STUDENT BEHAVIOR/STUDENT INTEREST – If a child is to be successful in early admission, he/she should be socially and developmentally mature enough to be in a structured setting for a full school day. The child should be capable of following verbal instructions and functioning independently within a group. The school system shall require two recommendation letters with specific documentation of physical and social maturity from preschool teachers, child care workers, pediatricians, or other adults with direct knowledge of the child.
5. MOTIVATION TO LEARN/STUDENT INTEREST – A child ready for early admission to kindergarten should be eager to learn…be excited about a new school experience…display a thirst for knowledge. Principals or his/her designee shall determine this information in an informal interview with the child and a more structured interview with the parent. Questions should concentrate on the personal interests of the child.
**This information is excerpted from HB-1099, as an attempt to help inform principals and interested parents.
Things to Consider:
- It is important that early entry to kindergarten be right for the child, not that early entry be right for the parents’ wishes and desires.
- This option should be to enhance an advanced learner’s environment, not to take the place of quality childcare.
- This is not an appropriate option to encourage a child who is bright, but not performing, to do better.
- Most children, including most gifted children, will not benefit from early entrance to kindergarten. Most children will benefit from one more year to develop as a preschooler – allowing their maturity, motor coordination and thinking skills to grow.
- It is important to consider the long term effects. Young children have thirteen or more years of education ahead of them.
- For a mature and highly gifted child, early entrance to kindergarten may be exactly what the child needs. These children, already seeking learning situations, can benefit from the opportunity to channel their thoughts and efforts.