Are you a student looking to fast-track your education by skipping a grade in Illinois? Do you think your child is gifted, and are you curious about how your child can skip a grade? You have come to the perfect place to find the answers you need.
We will help you understand how to skip a grade in Illinois and give you information on the Illinois Accelerate Placement Act. This is a vital piece to how to get ahead. Students may also have the option to participate in advanced placement and gifted programs.
All you need to do to read more about these programs and the information you need is to keep reading.
Can You Skip a Grade in Illinois?
The short answer to this question is yes. Students are able to skip grades in Illinois. The Illinois Advanced Placement Act is instrumental in giving students the ability to skip grades and skip single course levels. If you are looking to give your child a head start, the act also allows the ability for younger students to start kindergarten sooner than they usually would.
However, it’s important to remember that a student can not simply wake up one morning and decide they will skip a grade. The parent can’t do that either. However, there is a strict vetting process that determines if a child is eligible to skip. This process is completed for courses and full grades.
What are the Requirements to Skip a Grade in Illinois?
Though not what you would typically think of when you think about skipping a grade, students may start a grade at a younger age or earlier than they usually would have. This accelerates their education. This can happen when a student enters kindergarten or first grade. It is mandated that all Illinois districts have a policy for this action.
Students seeking early admission to kindergarten must be assessed against a set of standards created by the school district. These standards can drastically differ from district to district. They may include things like a mandate on where they received prior education or who they were taught by.
Another stipulation is that they must not be five years old by September 1 of the current year. For schools that are on year-round schedules, the child must not be five within 30 days of the end of the current term. For early entrance into first grade, students will be assessed by a similar standard set forth by the school district.
Outside of these two early entry options, students also can skip whole grade levels or skip subject levels. If a student is accelerating in a particular subject area, the student is then given a higher instructional level for a specific course. If a student is not being challenged at their current instructional grade level, they may then skip an entire grade.
Stipulations may vary by the school district. However, these guidelines must be made public for students, teachers, and parents to see. Students must be evaluated to ensure that they are fit to accelerate properly. Each year faculty will choose students to be assessed for acceleration. Individuals are allowed to refer students for evaluation. These individuals may be faculty of the school, psychologists, parents, teachers, administrators, or even counselors. A student may also refer themselves, using a district staff member as a proxy. This individual must be aware of their academic ability.
After the referral process is complete, students will go through an evaluation. The specifics of the policy may vary by the school district. However, this is a multi-evaluator process. These evaluators will likely include a school social worker or psychologist, a gifted coordinator, a current teacher, assistant principal, and principal. These individuals will then work to find information supporting the student’s fitness for acceleration. They will also provide the determination of the particular way the student will accelerate. A parent may also be invited to participate in the evaluation process.
There are a variety of criteria that a student is evaluated on. This criterion includes the following:
- Assessments or Exams – Districts have the option to give assessments to validate a child’s skill level. If an evaluation is, provided, students will be accommodated for any IEPs. They will also be given the appropriate instruments needed to take the exams. This includes accommodations for any language barriers as well. If testing is necessary, parents will be notified when asking for their written consent to evaluate the child.
- Criteria that the student is evaluated on can vary. However, this criterion must be documented, fair and appropriate for determining if a student will benefit from acceleration. The student is not being evaluated as if they already know the upcoming material but more for if they are ready for the bump. The school board suggests the use of the Iowa Acceleration scale for entire grade bumps.
- A child’s desire to accelerate should also be taken into account during the evaluation process. Though they may be ready academically to accelerate, they may have no desire to be mature enough for the leap.
What is the Illinois Accelerated Placement Act?
The Illinois Accelerated Placement Act became active in July of 2018. This act requires all school districts to have policies for academic acceleration. These must include the ability to accelerate via the following options:
- Accelerating in a subject area
- Accelerating a full grade
- Early entrance to first grade
- Early entrance to kindergarten
In addition to mandating that the school has the options as mentioned above at a minimum, they must also implement a mandatory set of acceleration policies. These policies include:
- An assessment process for evaluation with reasonable and dependable indicators.
- A process for updating parents about the decision regarding your child’s acceleration.
- An evaluation process includes several key individuals, which can also include a student’s parents.
- All policies must also clearly state that these programs are not limited to children who identify as academically gifted or talented.
After intense research on acceleration and the schools’ policies, it was identified that 90% of schools did not have policies to support acceleration by an entire grade. Though the percentages were smaller in the other areas, close to 50% of all Illinois schools were lagging in the other areas. This Act allows for the increased acceleration in schools throughout Illinois and gives children in all areas an opportunity for growth rather than just students in certain districts.
What are the Benefits of Skipping a Grade?
There are several benefits to skipping a grade in Illinois. The most pertinent is that a student can learn at their appropriate level or the level of their abilities rather than the level that their age mandates. Other benefits include but are not limited to the items listed below:
- More academic challenges – Children who skip a grade get the benefit of being more academically challenged. This, in turn, has the potential to address behavior issues due to boredom. This can include the notion of the class clown or being a general distraction to other students.
- Children feel more satisfied academically – One significant benefit for children is that they can learn again. They are able to be challenged and approached with the information that they do not know. This can re-ignite the passion that students may have previously been missing in their education.
- Older students can offer developmental benefits – Interacting with older students may allow your child to develop faster. They are in a class with students who may challenge them and students who are older and may have different experiences.
- Decrease in behavioral issues – There is a greater danger in leaving children in classes where they are not learning, uninterested or bored because the work is too easy. This ultimately creates a set of children who are not pushing themselves because they are not challenged. They also can become a disruption to the other students around them. Where they may be excelling, they may be hindering the growth of their peers.
- Head start on their education – One significant benefit is getting a head start on their education. They can start sooner and finisher faster, giving them a jump start on life after high school, meaning college or the career world.
Wrapping Things Up: How to Skip a Grade in Illinois
You can most certainly skip a grade in Illinois. Overall, there are now several ways to accelerate your child’s education in Illinois. This is primarily due to the Illinois Acceleration Act, which saw the need for acceleration policies across the state. These policies help students of varying ages, not just older students.
Students can skip grades after being adequately evaluated based on the stipulations set forth by the district. To begin this process, students can be referred by academic individuals closest to them, or they can even refer themselves for evaluation. However, the process must be consented to by the parent or guardian.
There are several benefits to skipping grades, with the largest being the ability to get your student in an atmosphere that is conducive to their learning, that adequately challenges them, and that does not disrupt the learning of other students. If you are looking for specific information from your district on skipping a grade in Illinois, go directly to the source and get the required information from your child’s school.