In Quebec, your child must be 5 or 6 years old by September 30 in order to attend kindergarten or grade 1. If your child was born after that date, your child would have to wait a full year before they are able to start school. However, the Quebec Education Act allows school boards to grant exceptions for children who have outstanding profiles. This process is referred to as a “school derogation” or simply “early school entry”.
The goal of a derogation is to prevent prejudice to the child. That is, by virtue of standardized testing, it must be shown that your child’s overall progress and future development might be harmed if early school entry is available.
The Derogation Process
A derogation is not easy to obtain and the decision to pursue a derogation is often controversial. In order to apply for a derogation, your child must undergo a psychological evaluation. The assessment typically evaluates three main areas of development: intellectual ability, social-emotional and psycho motor development. Your child must show advanced development in all areas in order to qualify for a derogation.
The evaluation for early school entry typically includes intake interviews, information from daycare/preschool educators, examiner observations and test data.
The first test administered is the cognitive evaluation. If your child meets the minimal criteria based on the cognitive evaluation, further testing will be continue. However, if your child does not meet the minimum criteria, a discussion will take place with the parents, and testing will likely be discontinued. If the testing is continued, a detailed report of the findings and recommendations usually follows shortly after the final testing session. The decision to grant early school entry is made by the school board professionals/personnel, based on all the relevant documentation submitted.
Contact the School Board
If you are considering early school entry for your child, you are encouraged to contact the school board or the school your child is zoned for, as different educational institutions have their own unique process/procedure and/or deadline dates for submission of the documents. To ensure that the report is ready on time, you should have all this information prior to the start of the psychological evaluation.