My daughter skipped kindergarten and high school. I ran into resistance from the school system and you will likely run into similar resistance if you try to grade skip your child. First, understand that school systems very rarely volunteer to grade skip a child. So, if you've heard of other kids who have been grade skipped, the skip was, more than likely initiated by his or her parents.
School systems don't like to grade skip. They often prefer to package the kids by age and not think any further than that. If you really think that your child should be moved ahead, you have to 1. Know that you will receive resistance, 2. That they may laugh at you or tell you that you don't know what you're talking about, 3. Know your rights, 4. Do your research and 5. have conviction and a goal.
Before you talk to anyone outside of your immediate family about grade skipping:
1. Talk to your child. Does your child want to grade skip? The child must be on board with a higher level of work, or a grade skip may fail. It is unlikely that an unwilling child will do well at a higher level. You must fully discuss the good and bad aspects of grade skipping. Your child will be asked how he or she feels. You should know how he or she will feel so you're not surprised if the child is unwilling.
2. Decide what you will do if your child is allowed to grade skip and you find that you’ve made a mistake or that the grade skipping hasn’t worked out as you planned. What will you do? How will your child feel about that decision mentally, socially, academically?
3. The number one criticism of grade skipping is lack of “social maturity”. Do you think your child is socially mature enough for the next grade level? Do your child’s teachers, coaches and/or other parents’ view your child as socially mature? This issue will be brought up in the grade skipping discussion.
4. Have other children in your school system grade skipped? Who are they? What were their experiences? Note that someone else’s good or bad experiences with grade skipping in your school system will greatly affect the school system’s decision to accept or reject your request. You may hear something like “Well we’ve allowed other students to grade skip in the past, and we’ve found that it doesn’t really work out in the end.” How will you respond to that type of statement? You must know your facts.
5. Get a three ring binder and some paper. This is a long process.
6. Collect the following, make copies and place in the binder:
all report cards
all test scores from scholastic aptitude tests, entrance exams, IQ tests (if taken)
any award letters, special recognitions or honors
Teacher comments and assessments. If possible, ask the teacher for a written letter of evaluation. It’s probably best not to mention the grade skipping idea at this point. You want to get an unbiased, detailed evaluation of your child’s performance.
any outside academic information. For instance, private French tutor, Sylvan Learning Center participant, computer camp
7. List the last 10 books read. (be honest, your child will be asked to demonstrate reading ability).
8. Math ability – what procedures is your child able to do? Note that just because a child can do a complex math problem doesn’t mean that he or she can skip grades. He/she must not have gaps in learning and he/she must have a comprehensive understanding of the math level. Otherwise, you will immediately be turned down. Do not attempt to argue that he/she knows “part” of the advanced math level. It most likely won’t work.
9. Be willing to have your child take tests, but don’t offer that he/she takes a test until your idea of grade skipping is rejected. You are better off if your child is allowed to grade skip without testing because if a child does poorly on a test, you may be locked out of further discussions on grade skipping, even if your child is a little genius. However, you probably will be required to have your child tested at some point in the process.
10. Know your facts before mentioning a grade skip. Look at the education statutes for your state and find out what the actual age requirement is for your state. If you can't find it, call the state education department and ask where the rule is "written" and write it down for future use. Don't just take a verbal explanation. Ask "Where can I find that information written?" Then go look it up. (I also make a photocopy for my records when I'm looking things up - that way I'm prepared for the certain future battle with the administration.) You don't have to let everyone know that you've done your research. I usually save that tidbit for when the argument starts.
11. Put your request in writing to the Principal of the school. At this point, you don't have to write a long letter. Just say, "I feel that Suzie is academically and emotionally ready for first grade and I am requesting that she be admitted to the first grade for the upcoming year (input month). I would also get the admittance papers for fall admittance, fill them out and include them with the letter (because I'm bold like that). By filling out the official papers, you require that they respond to you in an official manner.
**Just be sure to be completely honest when filling out the forms. If the wording doesn't match your situation, cross out the word by putting line through it and place the correct information above the crossed out word. For instance, lets say there is a check box saying "I certify that my child is at least 6 years of age by such and such a date." Well, if you can't check the box without lying, cross out the 6 and place a 5 there or whatever the age of your child is. Adapt the form how you need to. The school won't be happy about it, and they don't have to accept the form like that, but that doesn't mean you can't do it.
3. They will most likely call you at this point because they don't want to put anything in writing. You will be told that it isn't possible because of the state laws (which you have looked up already). At this point, you will let them know what the exception to the rule is (if there is one) OR They'll surprise you and tell you to fill out the enrollment papers! Note that most states have no laws regarding grade skipping or they have very loose laws that can be molded to exceptional situations. Do your research and know the laws.
The exception to the rule: Many rules or statutes are vaguely worded. Here is an example of an education statute from the State of Connecticut where I live:
You will notice that this statute gives an age "range". There is no specific age restriction saying that a child cannot enter school earlier than 5 (again every state is different and I'm not a lawyer, so always consult an attorney just to be sure). They seem more concerned with getting a child into school than keeping them out. Your state will probably have something different (See the links in the question above which mentions the State of Nevada to get a different idea of age requirement and exceptions).
Connecticut State Education Statute on School Attendance:
Sec. 10-184. Duties of parents. School attendance age requirements. All parents and those who have the care of children shall bring them up in some lawful and honest employment and instruct them or cause them to be instructed in reading, writing, spelling, English grammar, geography, arithmetic and United States history and in citizenship, including a study of the town, state and federal governments. Subject to the provisions of this section and section 10-15c, each parent or other person having control of a child five years of age and over and under eighteen years of age shall cause such child to attend a public school regularly during the hours and terms the public school in the district in which such child resides is in session, unless such child is a high school graduate or the parent or person having control of such child is able to show that the child is elsewhere receiving equivalent instruction in the studies taught in the public schools. The parent or person having control of a child sixteen or seventeen years of age may consent, as provided in this section, to such child's withdrawal from school. Such parent or person shall personally appear at the school district office and sign a withdrawal form. The school district shall provide such parent or person with information on the educational options available in the school system and in the community. The parent or person having control of a child five years of age shall have the option of not sending the child to school until the child is six years of age and the parent or person having control of a child six years of age shall have the option of not sending the child to school until the child is seven years of age. The parent or person shall exercise such option by personally appearing at the school district office and signing an option form. The school district shall provide the parent or person with information on the educational opportunities available in the school system.
Does the school system have to grade skip a gifted child?
No, you are at the mercy of whatever school system your child is in. You may have more flexibility if your child attends a private school. For instance, once my daughter was grade skipped in one school system and it was on the records, she was automatically accepted into the higher grade when she transferred schools. You have to be creative and must be flexible.
What tests does my child have to take to skip a grade?
Different states have different laws, so check your state education statutes. To my knowledge, there are no tests required by law for grade skipping. The school, however, is in charge of your child's education as long as he or she is enrolled. If the school wants to test your child in order to grade skip, you will have to decide if you want your child to test in order to try to accomplish that goal. If you want more control, you could choose to home school or move school systems, or try a private school. There are many standardized IQ tests and standardized achievement tests that may be required.
School administrators and teachers will not be around in 20 years to see the positive or negative results of a grade skip. They will not be affected by your choices. You and your child will live with the good or bad consequences of either staying in the age grade or grade skipping. So, be strong and do what you need to do to benefit your situation.