Early Access

Early Access is an opportunity for highly gifted four year olds to enter kindergarten one-year early, or for highly gifted five year olds to skip kindergarten and begin first grade. It is not for all children. Parents must submit their application by April 1st. Students must qualify with a score at or above the 97th percentile on aptitude and achievement tests. They must also demonstrate appropriate maturity through a psychological evaluation and informal observations. Information from previous preschool teachers is also considered. Importantly, if a student does not qualify for early access, they may still receive enrichment in the classroom. The district uses a process called Response to Instruction (RTI) to identify students needing enrichment. This can be remedial enrichment or advanced enrichment.

Criteria


Aptitude and Achievement:

Any child who turns five years old after September 30 will only be considered for early entrance, under HB1021, if they are deemed to be a "highly advanced gifted child". The intent of HB1021 is to serve the "highly advanced gifted child" who is "academically gifted, socially and emotionally mature, motivated to learn, and ready for advanced placement. The same holds true for children who turn six years old after September 30 related to first grade entrance.


Parents must, at their expense (with the exception of those who qualify for free and reduced meals), have their child diagnostically evaluated with appropriate instruments by an appropriate state licensed professional. Parents should seek out a licensed professional who enjoys gifted children and has tested many of them. Such a person knows how to recognize the reflective child who needs extra time to hone answers, how to support the perfectionist who is not used to making mistakes, and how to help the active child maintain focus with a fast presentation and opportunities to move around. Good rapport is critical for eliciting the child’s best performance.


The early access criteria for intellectual aptitude is the 97th percentile.

The early access criteria for academic achievement is the 97th percentile.


Performance:

Test scores alone do not meet the standards of a determination. A student may score at the 97th percentile or above on aptitude and achievement tests but not have data that supports school readiness. Every child with a score above the 97th percentile may not benefit from early access to kindergarten or first grade. In addition the student must show a demonstrated ability two or more years above same age peers. This should be collected through a cohesive body of evidence that may include but is not limited to information obtained through the use of observations, the Kingore Observation Inventory, Iowa Acceleration Scale, Gifted evaluation Scale (GES-3), previous testing information, prior placements or participation in advanced programming.


Support System:

Early access is intended to support students who are evaluated to be exceptional in aptitude/cognitive reasoning, academics, school readiness and motivation. Longitudinal studies report that early access children excel academically, participate in extra-curricular activities, exhibit strong positive concepts; some may require acceleration again later in their educational career. The benefits to students who qualify for early access include: integrating early childhood and gifted educational programming to expand access to curriculum, instruction and assessment aligned to the child’s level of challenge. Additionally, early access fosters friendships and social-emotional growth closer to the child’s developmental level.


To help support the student who qualifies for early access their progress will be monitored at minimum level of every five weeks and this data will be recorded in their ALP. Students will further be discussed at response to intervention meetings to review appropriate programming and services. Parent teacher conferences will also be utilized to inform parents of student progress and discuss the current programming that is in place.


Process


Timelines:


  • Applications for early access are due by April 1 for the next school year and may be submitted as early as February 1st.

  • Determinations shall be made within 60 calendar days of the AU receiving the child's portfolio submitted by the child's parent or legal guardian.

  • For referrals received after April 1, the AU may, at its discretion, consider the child's information, provided the determination is made by September 1 or by the start of the upcoming school year, whichever is earlier.

  • A student shall be age 4 by October 1 for kindergarten; and, age 5 by October 1 for first grade.

  • If a student qualifies for Early Access an ALP will be developed by Sept. 30th of the school year in which the student will begin school.

Personnel:

The Early Access Committee, comprised of the gifted education representative, school psychologist and a kindergarten classroom teacher will review assessment data and make a recommendation for placement using the Iowa Acceleration Scale. The committee will complete the "Determination for Early Access Form" and will communicate the decision reached with the parents and the building principal. The original form will be placed in the student’s Cum Folder. Copies of the form will be sent to Parents, the Principal, the GT Teacher, the School Psychologist and the Director of Special Services.


Referrals will be sent to the Director of Special Services who will assist in the coordination of the Early Access process.


Transfer Students:

A kindergarten or 1st grade student transferring from a district where the entrance age criteria vary from September 30th must submit documentation from the previous school. Documentation must include comprehensive cognitive, academic, performance, and adaptive behavioral functioning. Standardized assessment tools must place the student in the 97th percentile, or above, in all areas. The final decision for early access rests with the Early Access Committee.


Monitoring:

Early access is intended to support students who are evaluated to be exceptional in aptitude/cognitive reasoning, academics, school readiness and motivation. Longitudinal studies report that early access children excel academically, participate in extra-curricular activities, exhibit strong positive concepts; some may require acceleration again later in their educational career. The benefits to students who qualify for early access include: integrating early childhood and gifted educational programming to expand access to curriculum, instruction and assessment aligned to the child’s level of challenge. Additionally, early access fosters friendships and social-emotional growth closer to the child’s developmental level.


To help support the student who qualifies for early access their progress will be monitored at minimum level of every five weeks and this data will be recorded in their ALP. Students will further be discussed at response to intervention meetings to review appropriate programming and services. Parent teacher conferences will also be utilized to inform parents of student progress and discuss the current programming that is in place. Additional data to be collected throughout the school year will include: Teaching Strategies Gold, and DIBELS.

School Board Policy



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