School districts, housing, and having a grade-skipped kid

So, DC1 is grade-skipped by two grades.  Ze is in a private school.

That means that we have no idea what grade ze is going to be in next year when ze goes to public school in a new state.

Which means we’ve been calling around a lot.

And getting a bizarre range of answers about how schools would determine grade level for DC1 in our situation.  How big a range?

1.  DC1 starts in 3rd grade, period.  Then the teacher observes for 6 weeks.  Then a team including the principal discusses the situation and most likely keeps DC1 in 3rd grade, even though ze would be the oldest non-red-shirted kid in the grade.

2.  It’s up to the principal.

3.  The administration would assess DC1 to determine what would be appropriate.  If ze is ready for 5th grade, that is where ze would go.  In additional to educational components, they will assess emotional and social components.  Writing it out this way makes it sound a lot nicer than how they sounded over the phone, which hit both DH and me with a lot of bad memories about our childhood, with the emphasis on emotional/social.  (Because if you’re out of synch with your same-age peers, you’re failing at emotional/social which means they won’t let you skip… Catch-22.) (#2 is still mad about people not letting me skip a grade for social reasons… guess what, I didn’t have friends in school ANYWAY so at least I could have learned something… grumble.)  (#1 would have had friends if she’d been grade skipped.)

4.  Need to take educational documentation including letter from teacher/principal and report card.  The documentation will be reviewed by school administration.

5.  Based on age it would be 4th grade (different cut-off date?), but school records indicating completion of 4th grade would allow DC1 to be placed in 5th.

6.  Ze would be placed in 5th grade automatically.

7.  Ze would be placed in 5th grade and then given a placement test for homogeneous math grouping placement.  Bring materials to help teacher/administration work with DC1.  Would need special reasons to be placed in a grade below 5th.  (“Is it because you’re calling from the South [and worried that a blue state education would be too advanced]?” the confused administrator asked.)

8.  Skip approved with proof of why skipped for special reasons.

So we’re narrowing down our search to #4-8, mainly because #3 gave off such negative vibes.  #7 sounds great, but has very few, if any, houses, mostly apartments and the apartments are interspersed with undergraduate housing.  So we might look out there, but not until we get closer.  #6 is a substantial commute for me and very suburban… not unlike where we live now.  #5 has fifth grade in middle school, not elementary school like all the other districts in the area.  #4 is a pretty good bet in terms of houses, commute times, and walkability, but I’m a bit nervous about where they would really place DC1.  Still, they have some really nice (not cheap!) houses and the commute is great.

I guess the moral is that different places do things widely differently, sometimes even in a smallish geographic area?

32 Responses to “School districts, housing, and having a grade-skipped kid”

  1. First Gen American Says:

    Ugh…hard. The annoying thing around here is some schools around here won’t even bother to take the time out to answer these questions until you are a resident of that district.

  2. Holly@ClubThrifty Says:

    I hope your child ends up transitioning into 5th or at least 4th. Otherwise, he or she will likely be incredibly bored!

    “Is it because you’re calling from the South [and worried that a blue state education would be too advanced?”


  3. Sara Says:

    Back in middle school, I was in a cheesy musical about a kid who is forced to repeat a grade after his family moves due to his birthdate. (He, of course, regains his confidence and manages to test into the correct grade after the help of some magic sneakers.) At the time, I thought this was completely idiotic, because what school would force a child to repeat a grade ze has already successfully completed? It’s sad to hear that some real world school districts are just as idiotic as the plot device of a children’s show.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      But… think of the emotional and social well-being of the poor child! (*scarcasm*)

    • The frugal ecologist Says:

      I’m with Sara – I wouldn’t even think to ask – I would have assumed that completed 4th grade = enters 5th grade.

      Sounds like you do have some options though. Is there a way to visit these schools before you commit to a house? Its a lot to do for a temporary move but a year can be a long time. Good luck!!

    • Debbie M Says:

      I’m also surprised. We moved ALL THE TIME when I was a kid and I never had to re-do any grades even though I was skipped a grade. (And was short for my age, let alone my grade.) The worst thing that happened was that I was once placed in the average group because they were just about to add a fourth teacher and then they were going to shuffle all the students into the right classes at the same time. Good thing you thought to ask ahead of time! Yikes!

    • Rented life Says:

      My brother was forced to repeat for that reason–emotional/social. He never blossomed into the social butterfly he was supposed to. Never understood it since the teacher said he was happy and all else was fine.

  4. becca Says:

    These things do vary a ton. One thing to keep in mind is that schools are evaluated differently in different locations- they may be more sensitive to test score performance in some places.

    Quite honestly, #7 sounds the most competent to me. Regional differences are real, even if simplifying it to “the South” is excessive (my friend in Dallas has a Kindergartener who gets about an hour of homework a day, and for whom they are at least 6 months ahead of us, math-curriculum-wise… i.e. they are covering money and time now, whereas my kid’s school doesn’t get to it until second quarter of 1st grade. Don’t even get me started on how appalled I am at my kid’s school). All else being equal, if a school has had some experience with military families/other people moving from vastly different educational backgrounds, go with them. I’d bet good money DC1 will be able to keep up academically in the vast majority of 5th grade classrooms, but if you wind up with one of those “must demonstrate perfect mastery of all earlier skills before progressing to another skill” teachers, it could be problematic.

  5. Cloud Says:

    Of all the parenting things, I find school-related things the most angst inducing. I’m not sure why that is. I don’t think I have any deep scars from my school days!

    Anyway, I’m with you that options 4-8 sound best. I think I’d consider #3 if I could visit it and get a better feel for how well they handle these things. There are kids for whom grade-skipping fails for social reasons, but from what I know of your kid, ze is not one of them! But anyway, since you can’t visit, why risk it?

    Are there private options or charter schools that could be a fall back plan if you find an awesome house in option #4 and the public school placement decision isn’t what you want?

    Good luck. This sort of thing is so hard.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We can’t really afford private options (40K+/year since my kids aren’t Catholic). I don’t know about charter schools, but it seems like they’re either ranked with the worst (2-3 stars) or they’re full from lottery with waitlists. But we haven’t looked extensively.

      • Cloud Says:

        Yikes! I think that is a bit more than even what the most elite private schools here charge, and when we were looking, there were a few less elite ones that still looked like great options and charged less than $15k/year.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        The Catholics are all 8K/year, but they specifically say that their waitlists are so long you have to be Catholic. There may be a few tiny fundamentalist Christian ones that are less expensive, but I didn’t check pricetags on those.

  6. anandar Says:

    One thing I’ll say in defense of #3 is that, at least in my little section of a blue state, there is a major emphasis (taken up by many including some of the most impressive/sophisticated educators in the area) on including social/emotional learning as part of the standard academic curriculum, not something separate or incidental — so saying that they will consider your kid’s social and emotional needs when determining a placement just makes them sound au courant. But if they gave you bad vibes and did NOT seem smart/nuanced about it, then by all means respect your gut and stay away!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      #3 and #4 weren’t actually that different (the emotional etc. component is included), but the big difference was the way they talked about it over the phone. Writing it out it doesn’t sound anywhere near as bad as it sounded when DH came off the phone conversation.

      The thing is, “emotional/social” outcomes are actually *improved* for gifted kids with grade skips (according to extensive research), but they are often used as excuses not to skip.

      • becca Says:

        Education does seem to be one of those fields where staying au courant is important, doesn’t it? Still, I could imagine concerns about “emotional/social development” can mean a lot of things in this context. Best case scenario, it’s something like “we have a restorative justice framework for all discipline in the school and diving right into that after having been in a formal rule driven environment can be disorienting” (i.e. we expect our 5th graders to be tiny diplomats, and we’ve got a uniquely evidence-based approach for getting them that way, and to expect a much younger child to pull it off might be developmentally inappropriate).
        The issue that I’m guessing number 1 (and maybe number 2) is concerned about is that it could be a proxy for “you are raising your child wrong by hothousing hir, and ze clearly can’t handle the pressure of academics. And if they think academics are a game and not pressure, then you haven’t taught them about the Real World either” (i.e. The skips are bad and you are bad and standardization is good type of “socialization”).
        Of course, it could even be “Kindergarteners and 2nd graders have a lot in common, but our 5th graders are already obsessing over makeup and sports and have all grown up with each other” (i.e. skipping is not bad in general, but *this* skip could be worrisome because of the particulars of the social environment).

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        The problem with that last paragraph is that my fifth grader likely won’t be obsessing about make-up and sports in a year or two years *either*. Just like I never did even though I wasn’t grade-skipped. But it is a very common argument. Far too common.

      • Rosa Says:

        you weren’t talking to the person who would make the decision or deal with your child, though, right?

        My experience with schools the last few years is really teaching me that parent experience is almost totally separate from kid experience. We deal with a whole bunch of people kiddo never sees, and kiddo’s dealing every day with people we barely deal with. So I am sucking up a bunch of things that bother the shit out of me because his experience is good so far. It’s really hard.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        In that specific situation I’m not sure if that person would make the decision or not. In some cases DH talked to the decision-maker and in some cases he talked to a staff member who looked up district policy for us.

  7. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    I would try to do some due diligence to make sure that what you’re hearing from these people is really how things would happen. Because educational bureaucrats have been known to just make shitte up on the fly.

  8. sarah Says:

    I may be in the minority, but #5 and 6 seem the most straightforward and would be my preference. I would be weary of any school that attaches (even minor) caveats to a 5th grade entrance, especially if this is only for a year. Is it possible to get written confirmation before you choose a school and place to move? When we looked into grade placement/skipping we received wildly different stories from each principal, all within the same district. I noticed that the more convoluted requirements/explanations tended to be the most inaccurate.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      You mean #6 and #7? (#7 doesn’t have any caveats, it just also starts tracking for math in 5th, which we’re fine with.) Nobody wants to give written anything until we have an address that we live at and have signed up.

  9. OMDG Says:

    Sounds stressful. Schools these days seem to really like rules.

  10. Ask the Grumpies: Schools in the SF Bay area that are good for mathematically advanced kids? | Grumpy Rumblings (of the formerly untenured) Says:

    […] which is what it sounds like you need, but instead whole-grade acceleration.  I know we posted on our process, but I cannot for the life of me find that post.  Essentially we looked at a map of a reasonable […]

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