Early Entrance to Kindergarten or First Grade

Early entrance to kindergarten is the admission to kindergarten of a student who: (a) will not be five years of age on or before September 1 of that school term; or (b) is admitted prior to the dates established in the School Code based upon an assessment of his or her readiness to attend school.

Early entrance to first grade is the admission to first grade of a student who: (a) is assessed for readiness, attended a nonpublic preschool and continued his or her education at that school through kindergarten, was taught in kindergarten by an appropriately certified teacher, and will attain the age of six years on or before December 31; or (b) is admitted prior to the dates established in the School Code based upon an assessment of his or her readiness to attend school.

Process

General Timeline

  • An early admission kick-off meeting will be held in January of each school year.
  • Registration must occur between February 1 and April 15 of the school year.
  • Family proves residency in District 97.
  • Family submits a written request for early admission.
  • Family completes the district's early admission application.
  • District 97 will confirm request for consideration and notify families of the procedures for evaluation.
  • Evaluation will take place between the last day of school and July 1.
  • Families seeking evaluation after April 15 must enroll in an age-appropriate school program; and students will be considered in the first six weeks from the onset of the school year.

Steps

To apply, your child must be a current District 97 resident. For information about residency requirements, please visit https://www.op97.org/hr/residency-requirements.

Parents or guardians of children that reside in the District 97 boundaries may complete an online early admission request form. Completing the online form starts the consideration process. Completing the form does not mean that grade acceleration will necessarily occur. If you need assistance, please call 708-524-3000. Applications are only accepted between February 1 and April 15 of each school year.

Upon receiving the completed application, the district may conduct a preliminary screening, test or interview to determine if the child might be an appropriate candidate for the early admission process prior to the submission of a student portfolio. The family is responsible for collecting all documents for the portfolio, which include, but are not limited to:

  • Proof of residency
  • Early admission application
  • Contact information
  • Registration information
  • Release of student information form
  • Any previous assessment data (if applicable)
  • Application fee (if applicable)
  • A letter stating the reasons for considering early admission for the child
  • A letter of recommendation from a previous teacher, mentor or coach
  • Examples of reading, writing, math, problem-solving and creative abilities
  • Norm-referenced or standardized screening tool or questionnaire

 

Upon the submission of a completed application and student portfolio, a team of educators knowledgeable of early admission evaluates the application using a qualitative rating scale or rubric. Based upon the subjective and objective review, the early access education team determines if the child is an appropriate candidate for the next level of the early admission assessment process. If it is deemed the child is not a candidate for additional evaluation, the family is notified of the team’s decision.

The next step of the early admission process is conducting an identification assessment, which includes:

  • Aptitude test
  • Achievement tests for reading, writing and mathematics
  • Performance data
  • School readiness, social behavior and motivation data

Kindergarten Admissions

  • Baseline Criteria -  Level 1
    • Curriculum-Based Assessment of Readiness
      • End-of-year kindergarten benchmark in leteracy fluency and comprehension, writing and mathmatics computation and concepts
      • Completion of the full ASQ by the family
      • Observation in current setting
      • Submission of the portfolio from current setting by family
  • Further Evaluation - Level 2
    • Implement Iowa Acceleration Scale Protocol Components
      • Completion of the current teacher rating scale by the end of the school year
      • Completion of a student interview that is conducted by school psychologist
      • Completion of the family rating scale
      • Completion of the individual assessment protocols for ability, aptitude and
        achievement:
        • Achievement (Grade-Level Equivalent) = At or above 90th percentile
        • Aptitude (Grade-Level Above) = At or above the 75th percentile
  • After the Level 2 components have been completed, there will be a team meeting to review the student results and qualifications for early entrance.
    • Team members will include the school psychologist, school social worker, district and building administration, early admissions team, and family members.

First Grade Admissions

  • Baseline Criteria -  Level 1
    • Curriculum-Based Assessment of Readiness
      • End-of-year first-grade benchmark in leteracy fluency and comprehension, writing and mathmatics computation and concepts
      • Completion of the full ASQ by the family
      • Observation of student in the age-appropriate setting by a trained District 97 observer who is using observation inventory (to be conducted prior to the end of the current school year)
      • Submission of the portfolio from current setting by family
  • Further Evaluation - Level 2
    • Implement Iowa Acceleration Scale Protocol Components
      • Completion of the current teacher rating scale by the end of the school year
      • Completion of a student interview that is conducted by school psychologist
      • Completion of the family rating scale
      • Completion of the individual assessment protocols for ability, aptitude and
        achievement:
        • Achievement (Grade-Level Equivalent) = At or above 90th percentile
        • Aptitude (Grade-Level Above) = At or above the 75th percentile
  • After the Level 2 components have been completed, there will be a team meeting to review the student results and qualifications for early entrance.
    • Team members will include the school psychologist, school social worker, district and building administration, early admissions team, and family members.

A determination letter will be signed by all members of the determination team and the family, and will be forwarded to the receiving teacher and principal for their signature if they are not on the determination team.

Parents/guardians may accept or decline the offer of early admission. When a child is deemed appropriate for early admission, an Advanced Learning Plan (ALP) shall be developed according to the district's procedures by the end of the first month following the start of the school year or September 30, whichever comes first. The ALP shall include academic and transition goals, and must state that the student was enrolled through early admission for the years he/she is in kindergarten (if applicable) and first grade so that state auditing requirements are met.

If the determination team finds the child advanced, but does not find that he/she meets the criteria for
early access, it will provide the child's school with his/her assessment portfolio for use in serving the
area of exceptionality in his/her public preschool or public kindergarten program.