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Schools Hold Back Our Brightest Students

November 28, 2011

Normal students learn with 8 to 10 repetitions, but gifted students only need 1 to 3 repetitions.

So it makes sense that gifted students should work through the curriculum at an accelerated pace, right?

Then why do schools routinely avoid academic acceleration?

  • Limited familiarity with the research on acceleration
  • Philosophy that children must be kept with their age group
  • Belief that acceleration hurries children out of childhood
  • Fear that acceleration hurts children socially
  • Political concerns about equity
  • Worry that other students will be offended if one child is accelerated.

“A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America’s Brightest Students” identifies accelerated learning as “the easiest and most effective way” to help gifted students. This seminal, authoritative report, written by two educators from the International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development at the University of Iowa, offers convincing evidence that gifted students thrive when they are allowed to learn at an accelerated pace, whether by taking AP/GT classes, skipping grades, or taking some classes above their grade level.  While the popular perception is that a child who skips a grade will be socially stunted, fifty years of research shows that moving bright students ahead often makes them happy.

Read a book review of “A Nation Deceived”.

Download “A Nation Deceived” free.

How much difference can acceleration make?   Karen Rogers evaluated many years of research and found that several types of acceleration allowed a gifted student to cover 1-1/2 years of curriculum in 1 year in her report, “Research Synthesis on Gifted Provisions”.   Acceleration could include:

  • grade-skipping
  • early entrance to school
  • cluster grouping
  • full-time ability grouping
  • subject acceleration
  • curriculum compacting
  • early college entrance

Should your gifted child be accelerated?  Scores from the EXPLORE, SAT or ACT test from the Western Academic Talent Search will give you a clue.  Consult with your school’s GT Coordinator or GT Specialist to find out how far ahead of his or her classmates your child tests.  Or you can ask to use the Iowa Acceleration Scale to formally evaluate your child for a grade skip.

Check out your school’s policy on acceleration and consider whether one or more of these options would be beneficial for your child.

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