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18 States Don't Grant Waivers to Gifted Children Ready for School, Study Says

Children who are academically and developmentally ready to enter kindergarten but don't meet state age requirements still can't get waivers into public school systems in 18 states despite their abilities, a new study to be released next month by the National Association of Gifted Children has found.

Most states continue to sort students by age instead of ability—and that's to everyone's detriment, said Jane Clarenbach, the director of public education for the Washington-based advocacy organization.

"It ought to be about readiness," Clarenbach said. "As a country, we love young athletes and musicians but why do we struggle and struggle to address those that can [perform] academically?"

The NAGC's report—which will be released in full on Nov. 7 at the organinzation's annual meeting—states that 18 of 42 reporting states directly prohibit the admission of very young, but often gifted, children into their public systrems, many of which start preschool.

Administrators and educators often fear that the abilities of very young children can't be gauged properly, Clarenbach said. In fact, young children can be assessed effectively, she said. "It might be difficult...but it's not impossible," Clarenbach said.

Instead of making that effort, states force gifted children to wait out the calendar at home where parents and caregivers may or may not prompt the necessary intellectual growth, Clarenbach added.

The debate over early admission comes at a time when many in the nation are debating so-called "redshirting"—the practice of delaying a child's enterance in school to give them an advantage academically, socially, and athletically.

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