Kindergarten early entrance

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State and Vancouver Public School guidelines require that students entering kindergarten in the fall must be 5 years of age on or before Aug. 31. However, a child whose birth date falls on or between Sept. 1 and Oct. 15 and who resides within district boundaries may enter kindergarten if he/she meets the early entrance requirements and successfully completes the process outlined below.

The early entrance process involves an objective evaluation of your child in several areas of development related to early school learning. Those areas include oral language development, visual motor development, cognitive development and social development. To increase the likelihood that your child will have a successful first year of school, he or she will be expected to meet standards approximately six months above his or her chronological age in the assessed areas equating to an overall readiness rating of above average.

Children meeting these early entrance standards will go on to participate in a 10-hour classroom experience, which will determine final eligibility for kindergarten placement in the upcoming school year. A fee for the assessment will be due on the scheduled assessment date. There will be an additional fee for the 10-hour classroom experience for those students who meet the assessment criteria (see fee structure below).

Applicants must meet all the following criteria and provide documentation. There are no exceptions.

  • Child must turn 5 years of age between Sept. 1 and Oct. 15
  • Child must have completed a minimum of 200 hours enrolled in a preschool program within the last 24 months
  • Child must currently reside within the boundaries of Vancouver Public Schools
  • Parents must attend one of the three parent information session in April.

*A preschool program is defined as a learning experience in which the child has participated in age appropriate academic, social and emotional experiences in a group setting, under guidance and supervision of a lead teacher.

Application/assessment fee Classroom observation fee** Total fee
Full fee: $75 Full fee: $75 Full fee: $150
Reduced-price lunch partial-fee waiver: $50 Reduced-price lunch partial-fee waiver: $50 Reduced-price lunch partial-fee waiver: $100
Free lunch partial-fee waiver: $25 Free lunch partial-fee waiver: $25 Free lunch partial-fee waiver: $50

*Partial fee waivers granted based on requirement of yearly income for free or reduced lunch

**Classroom observation fee is only for children who meet the minimum threshold score on all assessments

Applications will be available in the spring at all elementary school offices, in addition to the Vancouver Public Schools administrative offices (located next door to Roosevelt Elementary School). Included in the application packet are two social-emotional questionnaires. One questionnaire will be completed by the parent and submitted with the child’s application. The other questionnaire will be completed by the child’s lead preschool teacher along with the documentation of preschool experience form. The documents completed by the child’s lead preschool teacher can be submitted with the application or may be submitted at the child’s scheduled assessment appointment, but will not be accepted after that date.

Completed applications for students who meet the eligibility criteria must be received (or postmarked) by the application deadline. Applications received or postmarked after this time will not be processed.

Completed application packets should be mailed or hand-delivered to the kindergarten early entrance office, c/o curriculum and instruction department. Please do not return a completed application to an elementary school office.

Parents with a child who meets the eligibility criteria and wish to apply for early entrance to kindergarten must attend one of three parent information sessions in order for their child to be scheduled for an assessment date. Adults only at these sessions, please.
Parents will be contacted to schedule an initial assessment time for their child. The initial assessment takes between 40 and 60 minutes. A certificated early childhood teacher will assess your child in three major areas of kindergarten readiness. The area of acquired knowledge tests number counting, number use, number naming and alphabet knowledge tasks. The area of verbal-conceptual knowledge tests the ability to name or describe the function of everyday common objects or body parts, opposites, sequence of order and location of objects. The area of visual-skills knowledge tests the ability to use hand and eye coordination to draw and remember shapes, write letters and numbers and compare like and unlike objects.
Results of the initial assessment will be mailed to parents with a report of your child’s performance in the three major areas of kindergarten readiness: acquired knowledge, verbal-conceptual knowledge and visual-skills knowledge. Each part of the assessment gives the following readiness ratings based on children of the same age across the country: significantly below average, below average, average or above average.

In addition, your child will receive an overall readiness rating which combines the three major areas of the assessment (mentioned above). Children with an overall readiness rating of above average will continue on to attend the 10-hour classroom experience which will determine final eligibility for kindergarten placement for the upcoming school year.

Parents who wish to appeal results from the initial assessment must submit a completed appeals packet. The appeals packet must be received by the district within 10 days of the postmarked date on the notice that the child has been determined not eligible. The appeals packet will include a questionnaire that asks for additional reasons and/or evidence that would suggest the child is an above-average learner who would be successful in a kindergarten setting. Please note that there will be no retesting of the initial assessment as retesting would compromise the validity of the results.

The Appeals Committee will review the request, make a decision and notify parents. The committee’s decision is final.

Completed appeals packets should be mailed or hand-delivered to the kindergarten early entrance office, c/o the curriculum and instruction department.

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Early entrance to kindergarten candidates who have met the initial assessment criteria will participate in a 10-hour classroom experience, spending two-and-a-half hours each day in a kindergarten setting. During this time, children will be working on basic kindergarten-readiness skills through a variety of activities with a certificated kindergarten teacher. The teacher will observe each child’s school-readiness behaviors based on rubrics of typical group and independent behaviors related to school success. Only those children who meet the predetermined rubric criteria will be placed into kindergarten for the upcoming school year.

Parents will be notified of the final placement decision within 10 days of the conclusion of the 10-hour classroom experience. Please note that the decision resulting from the 10-hour classroom experience is not eligible for appeal.

Children who meet the district’s established application criteria, assessment criteria and 10-hour classroom experience criteria will be placed in kindergarten at their resident elementary school location (based on your current address). In the event that you wish for your child to attend an elementary school other than your resident school, you will need to complete an in-district boundary exception as per District Regulation R5115. In-district boundary exceptions are granted on a space-available basis and must be renewed each year. Forms are available in every school office.

Frequently asked questions

Who is eligible to enter kindergarten early?

State and VPS guidelines require that students entering kindergarten in the fall must be 5 years of age on or before Aug. 31. However, a child whose birth date falls on or between Sept. 1 and Oct. 15 may enter kindergarten if he or she meets the early entrance requirements.

Are exceptions made for children who turn 5 years of age after Oct. 15 that would allow them to apply for early entrance to kindergarten?

The cutoff date of Oct. 15 is part of the VPS district policy that has been approved by the 
board of directors. Therefore, there are no exceptions made for children who turn five years of age
 after Oct. 15.

What kind of information is used to determine if my child is eligible for early entrance to kindergarten?

Your child’s eligibility for early entrance to kindergarten will be based on an evaluation of your child’s readiness for kindergarten. To increase the likelihood that your child will have a successful first year of school, he or she will be expected to meet standards approximately six months above his or her chronological age in the assessed areas equating to an overall readiness rating of above average.

What is the evaluation process for determining student eligibility for early entrance to kindergarten?

Step 1: Individual testing

The individual testing takes approximately 40 to 60 minutes and takes place at a centralized 
location within the district.

Step 2: Outcomes of individual testing

Families are notified of the testing results. There are two possible outcomes of the individual testing:

  • The student did not demonstrate the needed readiness skills on the initial assessment 
and is not eligible for early entrance into kindergarten
  • The student did demonstrate the needed readiness skills on the initial assessment and will go on to participate in the required 10-hour classroom experience.

Step 3: Ten-hour classroom experience

Early entrance to kindergarten candidates who have met the initial assessment criteria will spend two-and-a-half hours each day in a kindergarten setting. During this time, children will work on basic kindergarten-readiness skills through a variety of activities with a certificated kindergarten teacher. The teacher will observe each child’s school-readiness behaviors based on a rubric of typical group and independent behaviors related to school success. Only those children who meet the predetermined rubric criteria will be placed into kindergarten for the following school year.

Parents will be notified of the final placement decision within 10 days of the conclusion of the
 10-hour classroom experience.

What are the dates and times for this year’s testing?

Please see the initial assessment dates. Testing will occur on the second date only if needed to accommodate the applicants.

How do I talk to my child about testing so he or she won’t worry too much about it?

Putting pressure on children to do well on any test can be counterproductive. Children who feel great pressure to do well sometimes do less well because of the pressure. They may even become ill during the test! The best thing to tell children is that the test is a measurement, just like getting your foot measured for shoes. We are trying to find out if entering into kindergarten early is the best fit for your child.

How do I talk to my child about his or her assessment scores?

Be very careful not to use words like “pass” or “fail” when referring to the assessments. The assessments are measurements, and just as you can’t pass or fail a shoe-size measurement, these assessments do not indicate failure or success. Do praise your child for areas of strength and good effort!

How do I apply for an early entrance to kindergarten assessment for my child?

Step 1: Obtain an application, available at all elementary school offices in the spring.

Applications are also available at the VPS administrative offices (located next door to
 Roosevelt Elementary School).

Step 2: Complete the application packet, which includes the following items:

  • Application packet checklist
  • Documentation of preschool experience
  • Application form
  • Teacher questionnaire
  • Parent questionnaire

Step 3: Mail or hand-deliver the completed application packet, along with a copy of your child’s birth certificate

Mail or hand-deliver all completed application materials to the kindergarten early entrance office, ℅ the curriculum and instruction department. Please do not return a completed application to an elementary school office.

Applications must be received or postmarked by the deadline.

How will I know that you have received my application? How will I know when my child is scheduled for the assessment?

You will receive a letter, email or phone call within two weeks of receipt of your application. At this time, your child’s initial assessment will be scheduled. If you have not received confirmation within two weeks of turning in your application, please call the curriculum office.

What if my child doesn’t meet the minimum threshold score on the individual initial assessment administered by the early entrance to kindergarten team and I do not believe the scores represent my child’s kindergarten-readiness skills?

Parents who wish to appeal results from the initial assessment must submit a completed appeals packet. The appeal must be written and offer compelling evidence of your child’s above-average cognitive, gross/fine motor, visual-motor integration, communication and social-emotional development. A completed appeals packet should be mailed or hand-delievered to the kindergarten early entrance office, ℅ the curriculum and instruction department.

All appeals must be received by the deadline for appeals. These appeals will be considered and resolved in a timely manner. The Appeals Committee’s decision will be final.

What if I am unable to attend one of the required parent information sessions?

There are three dates and times scheduled for the required parent information sessions in order to accommodate a variety of family schedules. If you are unable to attend one of the three parent information sessions, the district will be unable to process your child’s application.

Is my child eligible to apply for one of the language immersion programs if they have applied for early entrance to kindergarten?

No. All the language immersion programs at the kindergarten level are based on a lottery drawing that occurs in mid-May. Children who have applied to early entrance to kindergarten will not receive final eligibility approval to register for kindergarten until the second week in August. If, however, remaining space is available in the language immersion program that you are interested in once you receive notification in August that your child is eligible to enroll, you may enroll your child in the language immersion program.

If I live within the neighborhood boundaries of a school that has a language immersion program, would my child go to the top of the waiting list once it has been determined that he or she has met the criteria to enter into kindergarten early?

No. The waiting lists for any language immersion program are determined by the lottery that is held in May. If your child is eligible to enter into kindergarten early, they can be added to the end of the waiting list of in-district students, but do not pass up other in-district students that have been on the waiting list since May, even if you reside within the neighborhood boundaries of the school. However, they would be ahead of any out-of-district students who are on the waiting list.

If my child does not meet the criteria to register for kindergarten early and I enroll them into a private kindergarten, can my child then enter into VPS as a first-grade student the following year?

Children who do not meet the criteria for registering for kindergarten early sometimes are enrolled in a private kindergarten for the school year. In order to enroll that child as a first-grade student the following school year in VPS, the child will need to complete successfully a private kindergarten program that is currently approved by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Upon the child’s registration, the school will first need to determine if the private school is currently approved by OSPI by consulting with the district’s teaching and learning department. If it has been determined that the school is approved, the parent will need to provide the school with evidence of enrollment from the private kindergarten. In addition, the parent will need to provide documentation (e.g., a report card) that their child successfully completed the private kindergarten program.

Can I attend the Kindergarten Roundup in the spring if I have applied for early entrance to kindergarten for my child?

Yes, if you have applied for early entrance to kindergarten for your child, you and your child may attend your neighborhood school’s Kindergarten Roundup. You will need to contact your neighborhood school in order to determine the actual date/time as each building has a different scheduled date. Attendance at Kindergarten Roundup does not guarantee placement into kindergarten for early entrance applicants.

If my child is found to be eligible to enter kindergarten early, how do I enroll him or her?

Parents may submit completed kindergarten registration forms to their resident elementary school office upon receiving notification from the curriculum department that their child is eligible for early entrance to kindergarten. The curriculum department will also notify each child’s resident school of their eligibility. In the event that you wish for your child to attend an elementary school other than your resident school, you will need to complete a boundary exception as per District Regulation R5115. Boundary exceptions are granted on a space-available basis and must be renewed each year. Forms are available in every school office.

If found eligible to enter kindergarten early, can my child participate in Kindergarten Jump Start?

Yes, you may enroll your child in Kindergarten Jump Start at your neighborhood school location only once you have received notification from the curriculum department that your child has met the criteria required for both the assessment and classroom experience.

Which elementary schools offer Kindergarten Jump Start?

The Jump Start program is available all elementary schools. Children will attend their neighborhood school location only.

Contact

Early entrance to kindergarten office (Curriculum and instruction department)

P: 360-313-1020

F: 360-313-1021

Mailing address: P.O. Box 8937, Vancouver, WA 98661-8937

Physical address: 2901 Falk Rd., Vancouver, WA 98661

Dates to know

Related

Early Entrance application
Applications will be available at each elementary school and the district administrative office on April 10, 2017.

Early Entrance appeals form
Appeals form will be available online and at the district administrative office on June 5, 2017.