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Early-admission policy sent back to committee

February 08, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

karenh@herald-mail.com

A policy that would allow children who are born after specific cutoff dates to begin school early was sent back to committee by the Washington County Board of Education on Tuesday, after members acknowledged confusion about staff members' recommendations.

The policy would have allowed children who are considered too young to begin kindergarten or first grade to take tests for early admission if they are born within a certain period of time after the cutoff date, said Patricia Abernethy, deputy superintendent for instruction. Students who are too young for prekindergarten could be granted early admission if they have "demonstrated educational needs warranting early admission," according to the proposed policy.

Confusion over whether to set Oct. 31 or Dec. 31 as the window for early admission forced the board to send the regulations back to the policy committee.

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According to information provided with the proposed policy, students this year must have turned 4 years old by Sept. 1 to be eligible for prekindergarten. To enter kindergarten, students had to mark their fifth birthdays by Sept. 30, and to enter first grade, students had to be 6 years old by Oct. 31.

Board President W. Edward Forrest said during discussion of the matter that the committee last talked about the policy several months ago, at a time before the state recommended the choice of two dates for early-admission eligibility.

Student Services Director Mike Markoe said the staff was open to setting the early-admission dates as either Oct. 31 or Dec. 31, but he said if the board chose to set Dec. 31 as the last date, the staff would be faced with additional students to test.

He said the state provided no data to help school systems determine which date would be better.

Board members including Forrest, Vice President Jacqueline B. Fischer and Wayne D. Ridenour said they thought the policy should go back to committee for further review. According to Abernethy, the state has required school systems to set early-admission policies for next year.

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