Early Entrance to Kindergarten / First Grade and Accelerated Placements

  • According to the Illinois School Code, children who will be 5 years old on or before September 1 may register for kindergarten and children who will be 6 years old on or before September 1 may register for first grade. However, District 47 recognizes that some students may demonstrate social, emotional, and academic skills that are significantly higher than an average incoming kindergarten or first grade student. In addition, some District 47 students may be eligible for accelerated placement in a whole grade or individual subject(s) whether in kindergarten or first grade, or in subsequent years. 


    Consistent with the Illinois Accelerated Placement Act, to be considered for grade acceleration, students must demonstrate advanced characteristics in cognitive, academic, functional and social-emotional domains. District 47 utilizes a systematic and individualized process that involves review of records, administration/review of standardized assessments, and personal observations to make these recommendations. 


    Frequently Asked Questions


    What is accelerated placement?

    “Accelerated placement” means the placement of a student in an educational setting with curriculum that is usually reserved for students who are older or in higher grades. It includes, but is not limited to, early entrance to kindergarten or first grade, single subject acceleration and whole grade acceleration. 


    Is any student eligible for accelerated placement?

    Accelerated placement is not limited to those students who have been identified as gifted and talented, but rather is open to all students who demonstrate high ability and who may benefit from accelerated placement. All accelerated placement decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the individual needs of each student. While there is no set limit on how many students are eligible for early entrance and/or acceleration each year, only a very small percentage of students will be identified as eligible. 


    Who makes the decisions about early entrance and accelerated placement? 

    District 47 teachers and administrative personnel are uniquely qualified to make appropriate grade placements for students. District 47 personnel routinely screen, assess and monitor students for accelerated placements when appropriate. District 47 has established ‘early entrance teams’ at each elementary school to discuss, review and monitor these recommendations and placements. District 47 is committed to working together collaboratively with families to determine the appropriate path for each individual student. 


    Is there any downside to early entrance and accelerated placement?  

    Early entrance decisions can have a profound and lasting effect on a student’s academic and social performance for the remainder of their education. It is a decision that needs to be taken very seriously and only after considerable reflection. Research indicates that early entrance and/or early academic abilities do not predict continued high achievement in the future. The foundational skills that students develop in preschool, kindergarten and first grade are essential to establishing success in school across all domains – academic, adaptive, functional and social-emotional.  


    For example, students who skip early grades often demonstrate adaptive and social-emotional differences from their peers due to their relative physical and emotional immaturity. As they progress through school into higher grades, 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 should also be considered. Even when a student meets all of the criteria for early entrance or acceleration in grade or subject, there is no guarantee that they will succeed in that environment. These decisions are not easily ‘un-done’ and can have lasting ramifications on the student. All of these factors must be seriously taken into account when making the initial placement determination.  


    Applying for Early Entrance to Kindergarten or First Grade

    1. Assessment of Social, Emotional, Functional & Academic Skills

    • Students must exhibit functional and social-emotional skills that are commensurate with those of their kindergarten or first grade peers and they must perform significantly higher academically than an average kindergartener or first grade student.  

    • With the consent of parent/guardian, District 47 staff will administer a FastBridge screening exam in the areas of reading and math, the results of which will be shared with parents/guardians. A different screening tool may be used at the sole discretion of District 47 personnel. 

    • Upon review of the FastBridge test results, additional assessments may be recommended by the District 47 early entrance team as warranted at the sole discretion of District 47 personnel.

    • In situations where District 47 personnel do not recommend accelerated placement, the school district will review and reconsider its decision: 

      • Student attains a score at the 90th percentile or above on an approved achievement test administered by an outside agency for early entrance to kindergarten. 

      • Student attains a score at the 90th percentile or above on an approved achievement test administered by an outside agency for early entrance to first grade. 

    • District 47 will take into consideration whether or not a student has completed kindergarten, in a public or private program, when determining accelerated placement in first grade. 

    • Families will be invited to a conference with the District 47 early entrance team for a final review of eligibility. Decisions of the early entrance team are final and may not be appealed. 


    Related District 47 Board Policies: