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Applying for Early Admission to First Grade

First grade early admission is based on rigorous academic standards.

The State of Maryland has determined that six years of age is an appropriate age to begin first grade. In many cases, children admitted early to school will be working in a setting with older children. To develop a positive perspective about the school experience, children should feel comfortable, competent, and confident as they learn in the classroom setting. Therefore, only children who meet rigorous admission standards will be accepted early into first grade.


Age: sixth birthday falls between September 2 and October 13

Standard Requirements

  • Applicants must demonstrate mastery of HCPSS end-of-year kindergarten standards by completing assessments administered by designated school staff.
  • Applications require completion of developmental checklists.
  • Applicants must present evidence of having completed an MSDE approved kindergarten program.
Admission determined by: child’s prospective school Interested in early admission? Find out more about applying ↓

Testing Requirement

Early admission applicants will be assessed at their prospective school by designated staff May-June. Curriculum-based assessment tools will be used to measure applicants’ abilities in reading and mathematics in order to ensure their readiness for first grade. Children do not need any type of special preparation for the test. Children who already possess the needed skills will have an opportunity to show them during the assessment.

Early Admission Factors

As stated in the Howard County Public School System Policy 9000 (Student Residency, Eligibility, Enrollment and Assignment), children accepted for early admission must demonstrate a high level of academic, social, emotional, and physical development. An assessment of academic skills, as well as a developmental checklist of non-academic competencies, are primary factors for early admission.

Notification of Decision

Parents/guardians will be notified by letter from their prospective school regarding the decision of acceptance or denial for early admission. These letters will be mailed following the decision. Per Policy 9000, student admission under the early admission process is subject to a 30-calendar day trial period.

Applying for Early Admission to First Grade

Early Admission to First Grade opens on March 1, 2021; application materials will be posted at that time. There are three parts to the Early Admission Application:

Applicants must submit all application materials to their assigned school March 1 – May 31, 2021.

Application Timeline

Step 1: Application

  • March 1 – May 31, 2021
Parents and/or Guardians submit Application, Developmental Checklist A, and Developmental Checklist B to their assigned school.

Step 2: Assessment

  • May – June, 2021 (Tentative)
Children will be evaluated by school staff using a standardized process.

Step 3: Early Admission Decision

  • Parents and/Guardians will receive notification regarding acceptance or denial of application by the end of June.
    • Parent(s)/Guardian(s) may appeal the decision of early admission. Appeals must be received within 10 calendar days of receipt of denial for early admission.
  • Students should be registered as soon as possible after receipt of acceptance letter for early admission. Please contact your assigned school to begin the process; Parents and/Guardians must provide notification of acceptance at the time of registration.

Step 4: 30-Day Trial Period

  • August 30 – September 29, 2021
Teacher closely monitors child’s classroom progress during the 30-day trial period.

Step 5: After 30-Day Trial Period

  • Continuation after 30-day trial period decisions will be made based on teacher recommendations.

Submitting Appeals

  • Appeals about early admission decisions can be made within 10 calendar days of receipt of denial for early admission.
  • Appeals about non-continuation decisions can be made within 10 calendar days of receipt of notification of non-continuation (no later than October 9, 2021).
  • Appeals may be sent via:
    • Email to, attn: Division of School Management and Instructional Leadership: Performance, Equity, and Community Response Directors; or,
    • U.S. Mail to the following address:
      Division of School Management and Instructional Leadership
      Howard County Public School System
      10910 Clarksville Pike Ellicott City, MD 21042
      Attn: Performance, Equity, and Community Response Officer

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