How Young is TOO Young? Let’s talk Cut-Off Dates!

The Question:
I am the only kinder teacher in my small k -12 district. This year I had three requests for early entry! Two had October birthdays and one had a May birthdate! The cut off date is August 31st. Two of the parents admitted that they needed day care as we have no preschools in the small community. The administration leaves it up to me, but I would like to see the school board adopt some kind of policy! Can you share how your district handles early entry requests? What readiness assessments do you use???
The Answers:
Alison Nickolaus
Our district changed the cut off date this year from mid October to the end of July and the difference has been huge! I think cut-off dates are very important. School is not daycare! If the parents insist I would conduct a lengthy academic and social assessment to determine if the students are really ready.
Lindsey Whyte 
No no no no and definitely not to the May kid….. our cut off is the first day and they have a birthday within that first month of school to qualify for EEK. Even so, those EEK kids have to come in prior to the school year to take assessments. Consists of letter ID, Sound ID, Number concepts to 100, basic addition, sight words. It’s really hard to get kids in, and those who pass the assessment are usually higher than the regular kids coming in because the assessments are many of our end of the year tests. Good luck!
Shelly Funk Ellermeier
Our cut off date was changed this year, it is now July 31st, it was October 15th. If someone wants to enroll their child after the cut off date the child has to be tested by a school psych and then, along with parent and teacher checklists, the group decides what is best for the child. Everything is put into a rubric and there is a cut score. Depending on the score,  the child can go to school or has to wait. I also think that if the child’s birthday is after the old cut off date, (October 15th) they are not allowed to test, but I’m not sure about that.
Amy Rambert Murray 
Don’t get me started. Our cut off is Sept 30th and I want our district to move our cut-off date up to at least August 1st!! Any child should at least be 5 when they start an all day kindergarten program. I know there are exceptions for early entrance but it’s just one test (the Giselle?) and it’s limited in what it can really know about a child’s true readiness.
Wendy Lee 
Our state cut-off date is Sept. 15, which I personally think is too late. However, the only time I have heard of an exception in my district to the No Early Entry rule would be once when a Kindergartner began school in another state with a Dec. 1 cut-off and moved in mid-year.
Sarah McKenzie Seitz 
Our state has an enrollment age & NO early enrollments are allowed!
Sarah Rose 
We have a variety of kindergarten assessments (literacy,math, and writing) to assess basic entry skills. We also use dibels to evaluate their reading readiness. We also try to collect as much behavior/social information as possible. Score it all and let the numbers tell us what to do.
April Billings Hilsen 
We get so many kiddos approved by the district to start early. 4 out of 5 are not ready and take up much more of the teacher’s time. It is frustrating.
Leischen Celsur
 Our district has August 31st as the cut off, no exceptions, no early entry at all. We aren’t a daycare and early entry just hurts the rest of the class, as you spend so much time on the issues of the students that are too young. I wish our district would change our cut off date to July, like Alison Nickolaus. That would be wonderful. Over half of the class has mid to late August birthdays and it really shows. Then the others have September and October birthdays so the class is literally almost a year apart in maturity levels. I think more parents used to hold back their children when they had late birthdays so they would be more mature. But now, with the economic struggles and more working moms, parents are not thinking about their children’s maturity, they are just needing to send them to school instead of daycare.
Betsy Kirkwood Elder
 In our state the cutoff date was just changed this year …kiddos whose birthdays are after the July 31 cutoff can take a test, at the parent’s expense… one asked in our district this year…
Ruthie Hummel Mohney 
Our cutoff is August 31…no exceptions!
Heather Jacenko Gauvey 
We had two early entry. The one who older is struggling and the younger one is adapting better. They have to pass some test but the score to pass is low.
Kristina Scott 
So I’m just wondering, those of you whose districts say “absolutely no”, where are you from, what district? This is an issue I will be meeting with my superintendent about in a month. I need evidence/backing.
Amy Kress
 I’m in a private school on the border of 2 states w/ different dates (November 1, and Dec 31). It is typical for as many as 1/3 of my students to miss at least one of the cut off dates. Typically these kids land with me because their public schools strictly enforce their dates- but the families have pushed the children through pre-school in order to save on tuition or because they feel their child is “gifted.” I’ve had 4 year olds who were accelerated b/c they were tall, toilet trained before their peers 2 years prior), or because they know concepts like their colors, shapes, and abcs. It can be a huge mess when assessments come around. It’s sad. These bright typically developing preschoolers are held to a higher standard than they need to be because most are not ready for the mid and end of year Kindergarten expectations. I am very blunt with the parents and let them know I differentiate instruction and make no promises to turn out pre-first graders with most of these kids. The frustrating part is the percentage of parents that say “oh this is just a practice year- she’ll go to her REAL kindergarten NEXT year.” For everyone else it IS “real” school. It seems like both the children and I are wasting our time. I don’t know what the answer is, but I think the main problem lies with no one really understanding WHAT we really do and HOW we do it.
Kristina Nakanishi
Our cutoff is July 31–established by the state. We do not allow early entry at all!
And we send kids that meet the cutoff date,  but still lack readiness back home for a year…often they go to preschool, but not always!
Myrinda Ray Siciliani Dixon
 I live in San Diego and as far as I know, there is NO early entrance, PERIOD. Even if you had an IQ test showing the child was ready. It’s actually a pretty crappy policy, imo. Each child should be judged individually, as some are not ready at 5 1/2 even…
Kim Nations Pool 
Absolutely NO!!
Erin Brandon
Our cut off is September 1st and we use the DIAL R screener and teacher judgement to make the final decision. Two years ago we accepted a very bright student,  but socially she was not ready for kindergarten and we didn’t realize until too late. I say it is better to wait because they just struggle. I don’t know about your state,  but here if you accept any early entry to kinder and retain them,  you can’t get funding for them the following year.
Ammie Bradley
 In Connecticut the cut off is 5 by December 31st. It is so horrible! I have parents who wait and some who put them in. So I have some students who turn 5 and 6 on the same day. We do no testing to be admitted. I attended the NEA conference this past year and would like to write legislation at the next conference to support a more unified enrollment standard among states. It is hard on parents. There shouldn’t be such differences.
Laughrie Tucker
 Our cut off is Sept. 30. It causes so many problems with young ones. They are just not ready to tackle such a difficult curriculum. Our political leaders are making the changes now to move our date back to August for next year. This is a step in the right direction. Our kindergarten teachers are backing this effort 100%. Just say no, girl! It is not worth it to have frustrated little ones and frustrated teachers.
Lynn Sherwood Denney
 You are not day care. It sucks that there is that problem, but early entry is not the solution.
Kimberly Witte Adams
 Our cut-off is July 31st…NO EXCEPTIONS!
Christine Pietroburgo
 I’m not a teacher but,  as a kid,  I was one of the youngest kids in my grade with a late October birthday. I did well and the toughest part was that I got my drivers license in my senior year of high school. I am facing this dilemma in a few years with my almost three year old. Our cut off is September first and her birthday is end of November. She is in full time daycare and already learning letters & numbers and will be reading based on their curriculum at four. She would definitely be ready for kindergarten. It’s tough because daycare is so freaking expensive, yet I don’t want her to be at a disadvantage. I really think it is a case by case.
Anne Jordan 
Are Schools that have a transitional kinder program funded by the state? I know that we do not receive any state funding for full day kinder. The state funds for half day and then all the schools come up with the additional funding through the school budget. I also know that we do not receive funding for students that are retained a grade level the following year.
Carolyn Boyce
 Pick a cutoff…August 31st is fine…and stick to it! Once you make one exception, you have opened the door for the next. I can’t think of a single evaluation that can accurately capture a child’s “readiness” for kindergarten. A good teacher will take each child where they are and grow them from there. The cutoff may seem arbitrary, but we have to establish some date and no matter where you put it, some kids are “going to just miss the cutoff”. August 31 is nice because it ensures that you don’t have any 4-yr olds in K…even if they are just barely 5! 🙂
Lora Pruden
 What is the point of having a cut off date if it isn’t honored? I’d say NO.
Jamie Deitz Lucky! We have a December 1st policy!
Debbi Gelstin
 Thanks so much! This is helpful! I plan to print off these comments and take to my administrators. This year I have a boy who turned 5 on august 31 and a little girl who turned 6 on September 2nd! Already there is a huge gap!!!
Gina DiBlasio Dyke
 I can’t seem to read the other 36 comments, so sorry if this is very repeated. Thankfully the one good thing our “Governator” Arnold did was sign the law that our cutoff will gradually get to September 1st. This year we are at October 1st. State policy. So make your District Office or at least your principal do it. And remind the parents that they will be sending their kids to college when they are only 17…minors 🙂
Karin Smith Kelly
 September 1st,  no exception….wish it was August 1st.
Melissa K. Harris Armann
 We have a September 30th cut off date. To come any earlier, they have to be tested. Whatever test they use, it seems everyone always passes it. Then they come to kindergarten and do not do well. If it were up to me I would NEVER accept anyone for early entry. I would have a cut off date of May 30th.
Nadine Inglis Berger
 The chilren have to be evaulated at the parent’s cost.
Maria Sykes
 Another CT with our insane December 31. It is pretty much a nightmare. I have a ton of four year olds this year. Legislation for October 15 failed a few years ago.
Kristin Copeland Ramold 
Don’t do it. It will disrupt your whole class and you will be playing catch up all year. Have those parents put pressure on the district to start a preschool (but they will still have to pay). Look at other local districts’ policies and to your state and enforce the policy. Save your sanity:) We do letter/sounds, colors, numbers, writing name, counting, etc. But socialization can be even more important.
Whitney Moeller McCann
 August 31st! If a parent disagrees, then they can appeal to have the child tested. The test is the final word, but we rarely have many go this route and we’ve been full day K with 8/31 for over 6 years!
Melissa Williamson Spriggs 
We don’t allow early entry. I’d say no. They are still babies. They are not ready for K!
Angela Fairis Hildreth
Our cutoff is September 30th. 13 of my 20 turned 5 between July and September 30th. My class is soooo different from the classes that have older students, both socially and emotionally.
Laura Kreissl Sanregret 
Ours too is September 30th. You can have your child tested (an IQ test and a test of maturity) if the birthday is between October 1st and December 31st.
Suzanne Giaimo 
I certainly hope you said no, especially to the May child.
Catherine Cason Rutkoski 
The district I now teach in does not allow early entry and our cut off is October 1st. However, my previous district would allow parents to pay $600 for a private evalutation to determine if their child was “ready”.
I only had it happen once in 9 years and the child was admitted. She actually did very well.
Elizabeth Mikos
 I am in central Illinois and our cutoff date is September 1st, but we start mid August. I know this has been said before, but I can always tell what my July and August birthdays are because of their maturity level. In my experience, even if they are academically ready their maturity level is just not there and that makes a HUGE difference in the socio-emotional growth of the group. Some parents don’t understand how important that is in Kindergarten. There are always exceptions to the rule for anything,  but you have to draw a line and I think that line is the first day of school. Even those kids who just had a birthday the day before will show, but you have to draw a line. Four year olds belong in Pre-School, not Kindergarten.
Rose North Roberts
 Say Noooooooooooo!!!!!
Mona Robert Johnston 
In Texas, the students must be 5 by September 1st, but the option is to take credit by exam to enter into first. In all my years, I’ve only seen it successful with one female who tested as GT two years later.
Steve Pastor
 I was an early start when I was 5 and my maturity level still hasn’t caught up .
Melinda Bachman
 In California we just began the implementation of a transitional kindergarten year for fall children. Now we have this as we change our entrance date from December 2nd to, eventually, September 2nd. It is making a big impact on the regular K classes without the youngest, and the youngest are getting a bridge between preschool and the k standards. We screen all the kids and, if some are still needing the first year (of two years,) we put them in TK and have the families sign a continuance. Big changes with the child’s development being first.
Laura Elder 
In K our cutoff is August 31st– no exceptions made for any reasons. I think everyone is right about the maturities level and those young ones would struggle 😦
Cheri Dodson Smith
 I also am the only kindergarten teacher in our small rural district…and now there is no Head Start program, so the children come with no preschool experience. Being from CA, we just started to move the entry date from December 1st cutoff to November 1st, and eventually to September 1st, and I cannot wait. Being the Kindergarten and first grade teacher, I know first hand how the youngest struggle with first grade curriculum. And with Common Core, the bar has been raised for many states (CA already has VERY high standards for K) and it will be tougher for the youngest. That being said, most districts have School Board Policy concerning the entry of K’s and, in our district, the parents must come to a school board meeting to request early entry. I have recommended two students for early entry in my time at this district. One was VERY advanced academically, and one was for social reasons, her maturity was there, and frankly, it was better for her to be in school than home with her drug using parents! She ended up being retained in first grade. Each situation has to be looked at individually I feel, but having the parents attend a board meeting to appeal the cut off is a GREAT way to handle it. It puts some extra burden on them to follow through for their child, and then the school board can be the “bad guys” if the child is not allowed to enter!
Kate Cunningham Bissell 
We used to screen for early entrance, but our school committee just changed the policy to no one after 8/31, without exceptions. When we did screen, they had to do the same ESI screening that we use for all kiddos as well as be dra’d and they had to score in the top 25% of all incoming k’s. Kids didn’t get in very often!!
Karen Frook Hunt 
We should all unify and band together to try to legislate for a NATIONAL cut-off date of July 1st. That way all kids will enter college at 18 and start-off their school years with the best advantage for success academically, physically and emotionally!
Cheryl Dycio
 We have an October 15 cut-off. We often wish it was earlier. Say no.
Susan Parker Lauer
 We don’t have early entry. In fact, many parents apply to have their summer and September birthday children delay entry.
Karen Campos Boisseau 
My district’s cutoff date is that they don’t have to be 5 until December 31st (ouch). Our district will not accept any early entries, no matter what, however I think that the late cutoff is a part of that. As for having a classroom with quite a few four year olds for most of the year, it is hard, and my suggestion is let them be kids and don’t push them forward.
Michelle Cloutier Langley 
No…don’t do it!!! We are pushing kids too fast and you have to remember to look at the high school years! We have a pretty strict Sept. 1st policy and I think it should be more like June or July 1st.
Loretta Sulzen
 I have a very, VERY young class this year. Most of the things I was able to do with my class last year at this point I cannot even do with this class. Socially and emotionally they are just not ready. Most of them are so tired and they cry all of the time about everything. It is in the child’s best interest to let them be a child and not put them into kindergarten when they are just not ready. There is such a HUGE difference between these young fives and older kinders. The expectations are so much that it is just a shame that they come in and all they really want to do is play.
Vicki Bame Lininger
Check out the KDI…..kindergarten readiness inventory….in our district, the cutoff date is Aug 1st. the child has to have further testing to see if they may gain early entry…generally it is a no.

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