Local News

Early Entry to Kindergarten Has Children Facing Tough Requirements

Posted September 10, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— A new state law allows "exceptional" four year olds to enroll in kindergarten, if they meet some tough requirements. Some parents say the testing requirements children have to pass are unfair and in some cases ridiculous.

The North Carolina General Assembly agreed this summer to let "gifted" four-year-olds into kindergarten, but lawmakers didn't say what "gifted" meant.

State education leaders admit they were caught off-guard by the move and instead of letting each school district make their own guidelines, they set out to make the new rules. They're rules that are surprising some parents.

Chelsea Tripp is four years old and she wants to be in kindergarten. Her mother heard about the new North Carolina law allowing four-year-olds into kindergarten and applied for the paperwork.

Desiree Tripp was told Chelsea would have to test in at a 99th percentile level, better than 99 percent of other four-year-olds. When she called the psychologist who administered the tests, Tripp was told a 99th percentile level means a seventh grade reading level and a third grade math level to get into kindergarten.

Tripp said she expected the levels to be a little out of the ordinary, but not what they are.

Leaders at the Department of Public Instruction said the rules were meant to be tough.

Tripp thinks Chelsea is ready for school. She said the new rules just aren't fair.

The test also includes a psychological evaluation to judge maturity levels. Education leaders said they didn't expect many children to test in when they set the rules. Some parents are asking why pass the law in the first place.