You may have noticed recently that the age of students in kindergarten is increasing. Soon, all kindergartners will be required to be 5 years old by September 1 the year they enter kindergarten. This is because the birthday month for admission has been steadily moving backwards.
California Education Code §48000 is the culprit in this mess. It moved entrance birthdays back from December (2011-2012) to November (2012-2013) to October 1 as of 2013-2014. This means, to enter kindergarten in the fall of 2013, a student must be 5 years old on or before October 1, 2013. In 2014-2015 a student will have to be 5 by September 1, 2014 to enter kindergarten that year.
Be off by a single day and a student may not enter traditional kindergarten until the following year. Even turning 5 on October 2 is too late. A four year old born on October 2 who is turning 5 in 2013, won't enter kindergarten until 2014. That student will be 6 years old almost their entire kindergarten year. A lot of parents with advanced preschoolers are not happy.
How can a parent get around this entrance age cut-off? No guarantees, but §48000 lays out two items which must be met for a district to consider early admission to kindergarten:
1) The governing board determines that the admittance is in the best interests of the child, and
2) The parent or guardian is given information regarding the advantages and disadvantages and any other explanatory information about the effect of this early admittance.
Per the California Department of Education (CDE), if the governing board agrees the student's best interests would be served by being admitted early, despite being born after the legal cut-off date, the student still would not be admitted until he or she actually turned 5 [see the CDE article "Kindergarten in California"].
Per §48000 the board needs to approve early entrance, likely by requesting a closed session review. Loved ones' opinions alone on the child's social maturity and brilliance will not likely be enough. Testing, professional opinions and prior instructors' support may be needed to gain early admission.
All parents believe their child is smart and is waiting too long to move forward in their education, but what do the professionals believe? Is the child socially ready for this placement? What do their test scores show? What did their preschool teacher(s) think? These factors are important.
If early admission is granted, a school will then need to be found for the student, and it may not be the usual home school, which could be at capacity already.
If you petition for early admission, remember to start off strong and not presume anyone who asks will simply be allowed in. It may not be that simple so make the best possible case from the start.
Education Law Attorney
LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL
717 K Street, Suite 228
Sacramento, CA 95814