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Considering Acceleration: Policies and Procedures in the Bozeman Schools

November 28, 2011

Acceleration is an educational practice that takes many forms. Depending on an individual student’s learning profile, parents and school personnel may consider any one of the following options for academic acceleration: early entrance into kindergarten or college, grade-skipping, compacting or telescoping of curriculum, subject matter acceleration, credit by exam, self-paced or continuous progress curriculum, cluster grouping, or accelerated grouping.  Nearly all of these opportunities are available to students in the Bozeman schools.

Parents who are concerned about the ‘fit’ of classroom instruction for their child should inform themselves about options they may want to consider.  A Nation Deceived is a fantastic resource for this purpose.

Bozeman Public Schools’ district policy is clear on the steps required to make a grade skip. (http://www.bsd7.org/district/policies/Policies/2000_Series/2166P.pdf)  This decision is best considered during the school year, at least 60 days before the end of the term. A committee will be formed at the student’s school, and teachers will need time to gather scores and work samples to bring to the table for discussion.  Time is also needed for testing, as the child will need a full cognitive skills evaluation.  The principal is the person who will initiate the steps necessary to bring all players to the table.

For less intensive forms of acceleration, such as single-subject acceleration, procedures vary by subject, building and grade.  If, for example, a student is a fifth-grade history buff with a great deal of content knowledge, his or her class time may be reallocated in the same grade level through independent study, mentoring, or small group enrichment activities.  In this case, a grade level advancement would not necessarily be helpful.  On the other hand, many math students are accelerated to the next grade using scores on unit- and end-of-year testing, including some who travel between schools for appropriate challenge.  Again, the school principal is the person to contact in order to explore options.

Communication matters!  At all stages, make sure you consult with your child about his/her feelings and speak with the teacher about what you would like to see happening in the classroom.  If you have specific questions about acceleration options, contact the district’s Gifted Coordinator, Wendy Morical.

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