Okay, so my little one is one of those kids whose birthday falls in the funny range that makes her eligible to start kindergarten “early” if she tests well enough.
I spent all morning today researching how to go about this process in the Bend LaPine school district, so I thought I’d share my research for anyone else who’s thinking about doing this.
In particular, I am not only thinking about early enrollment for her, but also looking into Bend International School and a few of the magnet schools as possibilities.
One could argue that I should just spare myself a lot of time, effort, energy, and money, and just wait a year and have her go to her assigned elementary school (High Lakes, which is perfectly acceptable). But if I did that, then I wouldn’t be me. I’m a Gemini. I can never make up my mind, and I can relate to every side of the story.
So I have to at least give it a good college try. My attitude is that of, well, whatever happens, happens. I’m okay with any school, any year. It’ll all come out in the wash anyhow.
So what I found out today was:
Don’t even think about early entry if your child isn’t 5 by September 30th. Just save yourself all this effort.
In the meantime, realize that it costs at least $275 to have a school psychologist (and more if you find your own private psychologist) do the required evaluation.
Testing usually occurs in August, to get the child evaluated as close to age 5 as possible. Although apparently some families will have the testing done somewhat earlier, around summer time. The timing is usually scheduled with the evaluator around late spring to early summer.
In the meantime, Bend International School (BIS) and Highland Elementary (the only magnet school I’ll be considering, for both academic and convenience reasons) conduct their lotteries around the end of March. BIS is already accepting applications.
BIS has an informational meeting for K-5 on February 9th at 6 pm. Their tours for K-5 occur on a couple days, with March 3rd the only day I can make. Highland has its informational meeting on February 6th at 6 pm, and its tours on February 16th or 21st at 2:30 pm.
I’ll still be registering the little one for pre-K at her current preschool (which means $100 forfeited if she does end up going to kindergarten). If she doesn’t end up testing in the 97th percentile in the millions of categories they test, then I will have forfeited the $275 testing fee. Oh well.
So that’s the nitty gritty so far. I’ll let you know what happens in the lottery system for the possibly-early-entry kids once I find out more.
So here are detailed instructions for all the 4 year-olds out there who turn 5 in September and are considering starting kindergarten at a magnet program or charter school (ie, Bend International School) this year, in the order you should do it:
1. Schedule a date for your psychologist evaluation (this’ll probably be early summer, June-ish), ASAP, with a school psychologist or a private psychologist.
2. Attend all the info sessions and tours for potential schools. Here’s the link:
Early Enrollment for kindergarten
3. Get yourself entered into the lottery before it happens (March 18th this year).
4. Once the lottery results are revealed on April 1st, decide if you really want to start kindergarten before you turn 5. I will probably wait till next year for my little one to start if she doesn’t get into one of the lottery schools.
5. If you still want to start kindergarten in September, before your 5th birthday, then go to your scheduled evaluation in June. It’ll take about 90-120 minutes. Pay $275 for a school psychologist; more for a private pyschologist.
6. Once your testing results are available (which is usually right after you’re done with the testing), the psychologist will submit them to the school you choose to attend.
7. Once the school principal confirms that all i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed, then you can begin preparing for the real thing!
Well, after a springtime filled with illness, and thus a few postponements of her testing, she finally went through her early entry testing with a school psychologist. This was a person she’d never met before. I basically looked up each of the 5 eligible school psychologists and chose one that looked nice and was easy to get a hold of.
The testing itself ended up being easy, at least for me. The psychologist was willing to travel to my daughter’s school so I arranged for a mid-morning time when I was at work and she was at her preschool, made sure the preschool had a space for her at the scheduled time, and wrote a check for her that I handed to the preschool to give to her when she showed up. It lasted probably about an hour and a half, and was essentially lots of “multiple choice” questions, drawing, physical activities to test motor skills, and as her “treat” at the end of the testing, my daughter said that the psychologist read her a story. We basically “sold” it to her as “You’ll be doing lots of fun activities with a teacher, like drawing and looking at pictures and hopping, and then we’ll find out if you stay with your friends at your preschool, or if you go to kindergarten with new friends next year.” It ended up being quite benign.
After about a week, we heard back from the psychologist that she didn’t make the 97%ile cutoff. She sent the results over to Highland Elementary, which my daughter had gotten into via lottery. So it’ll be another year of preschool for her, which I am actually really happy about – great teacher, great preschool, one more year to spend with her friends (all of whom are starting kindergarten in 2018, as they all seem to be October to December babies), and one more year to develop additional Waldorf foundational skills. Overall, it was worth it: $275 and a few phone calls to have a psychologist help me feel more settled with having my daughter start kindergarten at her assigned time.