• Early access into kindergarten or first grade for highly advanced gifted 4 and 5 year olds is a comprehensive process intended to support students who are evaluated to be exceptional (97%ile or above) in each area of aptitude/cognitive reasoning, academics, school readiness, and motivation. The decision to grant Early Access for a child is determined by a team of District 11 gifted education and early childhood professionals, and is in accordance with the Exceptional Children’s Educational Act.

    • State Definition: “Highly advanced gifted child” means a gifted child whose body of evidence demonstrates a profile of exceptional ability or potential compared to same-age gifted children. To meet the needs of highly advanced development, early access to educational services may be considered as a special provision.
      This is in contrast to the question, “Is this child ready to start a basic kindergarten program?” The Early Access Process identifies students who will be assessed with skills higher than 97 other students, their same age, in a group of 100. This usually means that based on assessments, a student is already reading and showing basic Kindergarten or first grade level math skills, and already shows a need for additional material beyond what typical kindergarten students will need; hence, the student is ready for more than basic kindergarten and will receive an Advanced Learning Plan to outline those goals.

    The Early Access Process for Colorado Springs School District 11 consists of three phases:

    Phase one includes the application and portfolio submission process for parents/guardians who believe their child is highly advanced. Applicants must reside within the District 11 boundaries and must provide proof of residency. This phase also includes a $25 processing fee. (Families with financial hardships can contact the Gifted & Talented Office). The student application and portfolio evidence is reviewed by the District Early Access Committee and they make the professional judgement whether or not to recommend a student to phase two.

    Phase two is comprised of face to face interviews with parent(s)/guardian(s) and the student. Members of the District Early Access team interact with the student, engaging in conversation and research-based performance tasks, and interview parent(s)/guardian(s) about the needs they see for their child. Interview, observation, and task notes are reviewed by the District Early Access Committee and are used to make professional judgment concerning whether or not to recommend a student to phase three.

    Phase three involves a research-based, standardized, and comprehensive assessment administered by a licensed psychologist provided by District 11. These tests will identify the student’s skills in literacy, in mathematics, and overall cognitive and problem-solving skills for his/her age. This assessment may consist of up to three to four separate appointments that last approximately 30-60 minutes each. Students who score in the 97%ile or higher after the first two to three appointments are recommended to schedule an additional appointment, which is the final portion of the assessment.

    Criteria from each phase is considered by the District Early Access team in making the determination. Test scores alone do not meet the standards of a determination. A student may score at the 97th percentile or above on aptitude and achievement tests, but not have data that supports school readiness. Every child with a score above the 97th percentile may not benefit from early access to Kindergarten at age four, or first grade at age five. The decision as to whether a student qualifies for early access is at the sole discretion of District 11. Parent(s)/guardian(s) are notified in writing of the team’s decision. In the event the parent(s)/guardian(s) do(es) not agree with the decision of the Early Access Committee, the first contact should be the Gifted & Talented office for clarification. If necessary, a formal appeals process can be found in the Gifted & Talented School Board Policy, Regulation IHBB-R.