River Trails District 26 complies with Illinois law which specifies that, to enter kindergarten or first grade, children must be five years of age by September 1st of their kindergarten year, or six years of age, by September 1st of their first grade year (105 ILCS 5/34-19, Sec. 34-19). However, Public Act 100-0421 provides exceptions to this law for children whose potential and skills are in the very superior range when compared with their peers.
District 26 has identified early entrance to kindergarten and first grade as full-grade acceleration, appropriate for those students who are significantly intellectually and socially advanced. The decision to allow a student early entrance is solely at the discretion of the school acceleration placement team.
The decision for a child to enter school early can have a profound effect on his or her academic and social performance for the remainder of the child’s school career. It is a decision that needs to be taken very seriously. Research indicates that early entrance and/or early reading ability is not a predictor of success in school. In fact, children with strong early reading skills often plateau by third grade. For these reasons, we apply rigorous criteria when considering qualification.
Parents/guardians wishing to apply for early entrance for their child must contact their building principal, submit the Early Admission Parent Request Form, and submit any outside data for consideration including an Early Admission Parent Questionnaire and an Early Admission Teacher Questionnaire (if applicable). The application window is February 1 - April 1. Parent applications submitted after April 1 will be accepted but may delay the district’s placement decision such that it could occur after the start of the upcoming school year. A child will be placed according to age until a decision has been reached.
Children who are accepted for early entrance will be enrolled on a probationary basis. The school staff will assess each child's initial adjustment to school during the first 30 school days. If a child's initial adjustment is unsuccessful, the principal will request that the child enroll when the child meets the state’s enrollment age requirement for the appropriate grade level or the child may be moved to the appropriate grade level. If it is determined that the child's adjustment is successful, the child may continue enrollment in the early entrance program.
Prerequisite Paperwork: A parent or legal guardian must register the child and provide proof of residency at time of application. Parents/guardians must submit the Early Admission Request Form, the Early Admission Parent/Guardian Questionnaire, and the Early Admission Teacher Questionnaire (if applicable). Links to all forms are below. All must be provided prior to Step One being initiated.
- Step One: Appointment is scheduled with the child’s home school for an academic achievement assessment .
- Step Two: Appointment is scheduled with child’s home school for a classroom visit. The child will participate in a social/academic setting. Social readiness may be determined by a formal observation, student interview, teacher interview or use of behavior rating scales.
- Step Three: Students who meet criteria in Step One and Step Two will take an intellectual skills assessment.
- Step Four: A parent meeting is scheduled with the Acceleration Team to discuss results and possible placement options. For eligible students, the school team and parents will develop a transition plan for the student.
A parent or legal guardian of the referred student may appeal the decision of the Acceleration Team in writing to the Superintendent within 10 days after being notified of the committee’s decision.
In the case of appeal, the Superintendent will review and notify the parent or legal guardian who filed the appeal of his or her decision within 10 days. The Superintendent’s decision will be final. Reapplication for Early Entrance will not be considered until the following school year.