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Early Access Rules

gifted students working together

ECEA Rules for Early Access

12.08 Early Access

12.08(1) General Provisions

12.08(1)(a) Early access shall be provided by the AU to identify and serve highly advanced gifted children who are:

12.08(1)(a)(i) Four years of age and for whom early access to kindergarten is deemed appropriate by the AU; and

12.08(1)(a)(ii) Five years of age and for whom early access to first grade is deemed appropriate by the AU.

12.08(1)(b) If the AU permits early access, early access provisions shall be included in its early childhood and gifted instructional programs, and the AU shall expand access to kindergarten through grade one for students deemed appropriate for early access.

12.08(1)(c) Early access shall not be an acceleration pattern recommended for the majority of age 4 or age 5 gifted children who will benefit from preschool gifted programming that responds to the strength area. The purpose of early access is to identify and serve the few highly advanced gifted children who require comprehensive academic acceleration.

12.08(1)(d) When an AU permits early access, its program plan shall describe the elements of an early access process and how those elements, criteria and components will be implemented. Determinations made by the AU shall be made after consideration of criteria required by Section 12.08(2)(d) of these Rules.

12.08(1)(e) In 2008, an AU may submit an early access addendum to its program plan by September 10, 2008. Thereafter, AUs shall submit an addendum for early access by January 1 preceding the initial school year in which early access will be permitted, thus early access assessment may occur after the addendum is approved by the Department.

12.08(2) Elements of an Early Access Process

An early access process shall include the following elements:

12.08(2)(a) Communication

The AU shall communicate with parents, educators and community members as specified in Section 12.02(1)(a) of these Rules. Early access communication is:

12.08(2)(a)(i) Information about the criteria and process for identifying a highly advanced gifted child for whom early access is deemed appropriate, time frames, portfolio referral, deadlines, specific tests and threshold scores used to make final determinations concerning such a student;

12.08(2)(a)(ii) Professional development of educators, or other means to increase the understanding of a highly advanced gifted child and the educational needs of such a student;

12.08(2)(a)(iii) A method for collaborative efforts among preschool, general and gifted education personnel and parents; and

12.08(2)(a)(iv) An advanced learning plan for the highly advanced gifted child determined appropriate for early access.

12.08(2)(b) Optional Fee Condition

12.08(2)(b)(i) The AU may charge parents a reasonable fee for assessment and other procedures performed for the purpose of identifying a highly advanced gifted child and making determinations for early access. The AU shall describe the fee related to the implementation of the referral, testing and/or decision making processes.

12.08(2)(b)(ii) No charge shall be assessed if the child who is the subject of such assessments is eligible for a reduced-cost meal or free meal pursuant to the federal “National School Lunch Act”, 42 U.S.C. §1751,et seq.

12.08(2)(b)(iii) When evaluating the need for fees, the AU will:

12.08(2)(b)(iii)(A) Integrate the costs of assessment and decision making into the ongoing general instructional and assessment practices conducted by early childhood and gifted education personnel to the maximum extent possible; 12.08(2)(b)(iii)(B) Take into account the economic circumstances of the community and applicant’s family; and 12.08(2)(b)(iii)(C) Consider test results within three months of application from outside licensed professionals paid by the parent.

12.08(2)(c) Funding and Reporting

Administrative units that permit early access shall receive funding from the state education fund created in Article IX, Section 17(4) of the Colorado Constitution. To receive funding the AU shall abide by the Rules in this Section 12.08, and:

12.08(2)(c)(i) Support integration of early access in early childhood and gifted programming;

12.08(2)(c)(ii) Report age four gifted children provided early access using date of birth, grade level placement and gifted student designations on the October Enrollment Count and the End-of-Year Report; and

12.08(2)(c)(iii) Report age five gifted children provided early access using date of birth, grade level placement and gifted student designations on the October Enrollment Count and the End-of-Year Report.

12.08(2)(d) Criteria for Early Access

The AU shall evaluate a child referred by the parent for early access using the following criteria. The evaluation will lead to a student profile of strengths, performance, readiness, needs and interests, and a determination of appropriate placement. All criteria must be considered in making the determination – test scores alone do not meet the standards of a determination.

12.08(2)(d)(i) Aptitude

12.08(2)(d)(i)(A) Aptitude supporting early access is indicated by a highly advanced level of performance compared to age-peers on cognitive abilities rating scales or 97th percentile and above on standardized cognitive ability tests. Every child with a score above 97th percentile may not benefit from early access to kindergarten or first grade. 12.08(2)(d)(i)(B) The AU shall describe the method(s) and the developmentally appropriate tools for assessment that will be used to determine potential in general cognitive abilities and school success (e.g., individualized ability test, such as the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence or Woodcock Johnson Cognitive Ability Scale, or Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test).

12.08(2)(d)(ii) Achievement

12.08(2)(d)(ii)(A) Achievement supporting early access is indicated by a highly advanced level of performance compared to age-peers on achievement rating scales, performance assessment, or 97th percentile and above on standardized achievement tests. Typically, early access children function two or more years above their age peers.

12.08(2)(d)(ii)(B) The AU shall describe the method(s) and tools for assessment that will be used to determine knowledge and skills in reading, writing and mathematics (e.g., curriculum-based assessment, above-level testing, and individualized achievement tests, such as the test of early math ability/reading ability, Woodcock Johnson III Tests of achievement, or Iowa Tests of basic skills).

12.08(2)(d)(iii) Performance

12.08(2)(d)(iii)(A) Performance supporting early access is indicated by work samples and informal teacher and/or parent data indicating demonstrated ability above age peers. 12.08(2)(d)(iii)(B) The AU shall describe the method(s) and tools for assessment that will be used to determine actual demonstration of the student’s work (e.g., work samples, independent reading, advanced vocabulary, observational data).

12.08(2)(d)(iv) Readiness, Social Behavior and Motivation

12.08(2)(d)(iv)(A) Readiness, social behavior and motivation for early access are determined by the child’s ability to demonstrate the indicators deemed necessary for kindergarten or first grade by the district’s standards or national standards (e.g., district readiness checklist, normed-checklists and rating scales, such as the California Preschool Competency Scale or the Preschool/Kindergarten Behavioral and Social Scale or Bracken School Readiness).

12.08(2)(d)(iv)(B) The AU shall describe the method(s) and tools for evaluation that will be used to determine a child’s readiness for kindergarten or first grade, social maturity, and eagerness to learn.

12.08(2)(d)(v) Support Systems

12.08(2)(d)(v)(A) The AU shall define and implement a support system to assist in a child’s success in and transition through early access by evidence of:

12.08(2)(d)(v)(A)(I) A letter of determination of the early access decision signed by the parent, gifted education staff, early childhood staff, the receiving teacher and building administrator indicating recognition and support of the child’s placement (determination letters will be placed in the child’s cumulative file);

12.08(2)(d)(v)(A)(II) A transition goal in the child’s advanced learning plan for the first year of early access;

12.08(2)(d)(v)(A)(III) Methods of communication with the student about school success; and 12.08(2)(d)(v)(A)(IV) Methods for parent-teacher communication.

12.08(2)(d)(v)(B) The AU will describe how parents, teachers, school administrators and the learning environment will contribute to a positive support system.

12.08(2)(e) Process for Early Access

The AU shall establish a collaborative process among parents, preschool, general and gifted educators and school administration for evaluating early access referrals. The process implemented shall include the following components:

12.08(2)(e)(i) Timelines

12.08(2)(e)(i)(A) Applications for early access are due by April 1 for the next school year. Each AU shall declare when it will begin accepting applications.

12.08(2)(e)(i)(B) Determinations shall be made within 60 calendar days of the AU receiving the child’s portfolio submitted by the child’s parent in accordance with Section 12.08(2)(e)(iii)(A) of these Rules.

12.08(2)(e)(i)(C) For referrals received after April 1, the AU may, at its discretion, consider the child’s information, provided the determination is made by September 1 or by the start of the upcoming school year, whichever is earlier.

12.08(2)(e)(i)(D) A student shall be age 4 by October 1 for kindergarten; and, age 5 by October 1 for first grade.

12.08(2)(e)(ii) Personnel

The AU shall identify personnel at the AU, district, and/or school level who will be involved in the early access process based on the following list. Designated personnel may serve in multiple capacities during the early access process.  The AU shall:

12.08(2)(e)(ii)(A) A person designated to collect portfolio referrals;

12.08(2)(e)(ii)(B) Educators designated to collect data used in a body of evidence including the test examiner(s), early childhood teacher(s), a gifted education resource person, and others as identified by the AU (e.g., a performance assessment team, principal);

12.08(2)(e)(ii)(C) A determination team consisting of an AU level or school level gifted education resource person, a teacher in early childhood, and others as identified by the AU (e.g., principal, psychologist, counselor, parent);

12.08(2)(e)(ii)(D) A support team during transition including the receiving teacher and school administrator, parents, and gifted education/early childhood personnel; and

12.08(2)(e)(ii)(E) Other persons helpful in collecting data or making determinations, including the person who assisted in developing the screening portfolio.

12.08(2)(e)(iii) Evaluation

The AU shall describe the implementation steps for early access evaluation. The steps shall include, but not be limited to:

12.08(2)(e)(iii)(A) Screening Portfolio Parents are responsible for collecting the information required for an early access portfolio application, and for submitting the portfolio to the appropriate AU personnel. The AU must describe the requirements for an application portfolio that shall include:

12.08(2)(e)(iii)(A)(I) Applicant contact information;

12.08(2)(e)(iii)(A)(II) A screening tool completed, individually, by the parent and the child’s current teacher; or, if the child is not in school, by the parent and another adult who knows the child from other early childhood experiences (developmentally appropriate screening tools are district-developed tools and/or standardized tools, like the Gifted Rating Scales for Preschool and Kindergarten or the Kingore Observation Scale); and

12.08(2)(e)(iii)(A)(III) Information about the performance of the child that provides evidence of a need for early access evaluation (e.g., work samples, data from the child’s current teacher or an adult from early childhood experiences, or indicators of early access readiness factors).

12.08(2)(e)(iii)(B) Referral The AU shall designate the gifted education director/coordinator, principal, or other qualified person, to accept the referral portfolio provided by the parent, and make an initial decision as to whether early access assessment should continue.

12.08(2)(e)(iii)(C) Testing and a Body of Evidence

The AU shall conduct the necessary tests and collect student information, including test results accepted pursuant to Section 12.08(2)(b)(iii)(C) of these Rules, regarding the criteria and factors for early access outlined in Section 12.08(2)(d) of these Rules. The body of evidence is complete if data regarding all criteria, and other considerations deemed necessary by the AU, are compiled for data analysis and decision making.

12.08(2)(e)(iii)(D) Decision Making

12.08(2)(e)(iii)(D)(I) Early access decisions will be a consensus process within the determination team that analyzes multiple criteria from a body of evidence resulting in a student profile of strengths, needs and interests of the child. Test scores alone will not determine early access. If the team cannot reach consensus, the building principal or the gifted education director/coordinator shall make the final decision in accordance with the AU’s early access program plan.

12.08(2)(e)(iii)(D)(II) A determination letter will be signed by members of the determination team and the parent; and, forwarded for signature of the receiving teacher and principal if they are not on the determination team. Parents may accept or decline the offer of early access. When a child is deemed appropriate for early access, an advanced learning plan (ALP) shall be developed according to the AU’s procedures, but no later than the end of the first month after the start of school. The ALP shall include academic and transition goals.

12.08(2)(e)(iii)(D)(III) If the determination team finds the child gifted, but does not find that the child meets the criteria for early access, the team will provide the child’s school with the child’s assessment portfolio for serving the area of exceptionality in the child’s public preschool or public kindergarten program.

12.08(2)(e)(iii)(D)(IV) If the student transfers during the first year of an early access placement the new AU shall maintain the placement.

12.08(2)(e)(iv) Monitoring of Student Performance

The student’s teacher shall monitor student performance at least every five weeks during the student’s first year of early access. The monitoring process shall be based on the advanced learning plan and performance reports shared with the parents and child.

12.08(2)(e)(v) Procedures for Disagreements

Procedures for disagreements for early access shall be in accordance with Section 12.06 of these Rules.