The Accelerated Placement Act (P.A. 100-421) goes into effect on July 1, 2018. By that date, school districts must have a policy that allows for and governs the accelerated placement of students.
The Act amended Article 14A of the School Code (105 ILCS 5/14A), which previously governed only educational programs for gifted and talented children. As a result of the amendments by the Act, participation in accelerated placement is not limited to only those children who have been identified as gifted and talented, but rather is open to all children who demonstrate high ability and who may benefit from accelerated placement. That said, only children who meet locally-determined criteria are eligible to participate in a school district’s accelerated placement program(s). In addition, notwithstanding the changes regarding accelerated placement, school districts still retain the flexibility to design local policies and instructional programs for gifted and talented children.
Accelerated placement is defined in the Act as “the placement of a child in an educational setting with curriculum that is usually reserved for children who are older or in higher grades than the child” and “shall include, but need not be limited to, the following types of acceleration: early entrance to kindergarten or first grade, accelerating a child in a single subject, and grade acceleration.” 105 ILCS 5/14A-17.
We note that there is disagreement in the education and legal communities as to whether the Act conflicts with Section 10-20.12 of the School Code (105 ILCS 5/10-20.12) regarding early entrance to kindergarten and first grade. The Act states that accelerated placement shall include early entrance to kindergarten and first grade, but does not define what “early entrance” to either means; whereas Section 10-20.12 permits, but does not require, school districts to offer early entrance to kindergarten and first grade based on an assessment of a child’s readiness and other statutory requirements. Unfortunately, legislative clarification is unlikely before the Act’s fast-approaching July 1 effective date. Consult your Board attorney when developing your school district’s policy and procedures for implementing the Act’s requirements in this regard.
Accelerated Placement Policy Requirement
School districts are required to adopt a policy on accelerated placement by July 1.
The Act requires that a school district’s policy must include the following components:
- a provision that provides that participation in accelerated placement is not limited to those children who have been identified as gifted and talented, but rather is open to all children who demonstrate high ability and who may benefit from accelerated placement;
- a fair and equitable decision-making process that involves multiple persons and includes a child’s parent(s)/guardian(s);
- procedures for notifying a child’s parent(s)/guardian(s) of a decision affecting that child’s participation in an accelerated placement program; and
- an assessment process that includes multiple valid, reliable indicators.
The policy also may include the following additional components:
- procedures for annually informing the community, including parent(s)/guardian(s), about the accelerated placement program and the methods used for the identification of children eligible for accelerated placement;
- a referral process that allows for multiple referrers, including a child’s parent(s)/guardian(s); licensed education professionals; the child, with the written consent of a parent/guardian; a peer, through a licensed education professional who has knowledge of the referred child’s abilities; or, in case of possible early entrance to school, a preschool educator, pediatrician, or psychologist who knows the child; and
- a provision requiring a written plan for a child participating in an accelerated placement program, that details the type of acceleration the child will receive and strategies to support the child, be provided to the child and the child’s parent(s)/guardian(s).
A new policy and administrative procedures implementing the Act are included as part of the May/June 2018 IASB PRESS policy update, which is now available to school districts that subscribe to the policy service. IASB also made other changes to other applicable policies.
ISBE developed guidance on the Accelerated Placement Act, which is available here. In addition, applicable ISBE rules are currently under review.
Please contact Jennifer Mueller with questions regarding the Accelerated Placement Act.