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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. Students born on or after October 14 are not eligible for early admission under any circumstances.

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 (nonpublic or church-exempt) 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 for SY 2023-2024 is now closed.

Early Admission to First Grade for SY 2024-2025 will open on March 1, 2024.

Application Timeline

Step 1: Application

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

Step 2: Assessment

  • May – June (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 28 – September 29, 2023
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, 2023).
  • Appeals may be sent via:
    • Email to, attn: Division of School Management and Instructional Leadership: Director of Schools; 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: Director of Schools

Families New to Howard County

Families From Within Maryland

For families who meet the eligibility requirements outlined above and move to Howard County from another Maryland county after the May 31 application deadline, the early admission procedures will be extended to the end of the business day one week prior to the first day of school. Please contact your child’s assigned school for an application.

Contact Us

For additional questions, please contact