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Acceleration for Gifted Students

gtchat 06202017 Acceleration

Many people mistakenly think of acceleration as only skipping a grade; but it’s so much more. Acceleration can take place at all levels of education from early primary to college. Parents can check to see if their child’s school allows for early admission to kindergarten/1st grade/high school or college. Other types of acceleration include mastery-based learning, independent study, and single-subject acceleration. Classroom modifications can include curriculum compacting, curriculum telescoping, and multi-age classrooms. Honors classes, AP, IB and dual-enrollment are also considered types of acceleration.

There are some considerations to take into account when deciding on acceleration. Parents should evaluate school policy to determine if there’s sufficient support for acceleration K-12. All stakeholders should determine the ‘end-game’ before accelerating a student and what benefits will accrue for the student. Consideration must be given to whether or not the child wants to be accelerated; without ‘buy-in’, it will fail. Risks of not accelerating an academically advanced student are increased dropout rates, underachievement, and disengagement.

So, why are so many school administrators and teachers resistant to acceleration? Ignorance of the benefits of acceleration for academically gifted students is the primary reason. A simple solution is to educate them! Most of them receive little to no professional development concerning the many potential types of acceleration available. Few have experience with acceleration or have access to current research concerning its benefits. Finally, personal prejudice against advanced students can cloud judgement when considering acceleration.

Here are some tips to make an accelerated transition go more smoothly. Parents should provide strong evidence that their child is ready for acceleration – testing, grades, student desire. Prepare everyone on what to expect – the student, parents, classmates and teachers; informed transitions are more successful! Early admission and acceleration in the primary years can mitigate age differences and increase time spent with intellectual peers.

What options exist if acceleration does not work out? This is a rare occurrence and one which is better avoided by good preparation rather than correcting later. Consideration should be given to fixing what isn’t working rather than exiting the program. If the student decides to suspend acceleration, it’s easier done at the secondary level where multi-grade classes are generally more available.

Parents are usually the initial advocates for acceleration. Many school administrators feign opposition to acceleration out of ‘concern’ for student. Be sure to point out the financial benefits to the school district. Advocating for any school policy begins at the state level; know your state’s laws concerning acceleration. Parents should find or start a Parent Advocacy Group; strength in numbers!

It is important to keep in mind why you are considering acceleration and reasons it will benefit a particular student. No plan will work if the child is not a willing participant. Acceleration is a cost effective means to providing an excellent educational opportunity for an academically gifted students. A transcript of this chat may be found at Storify.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at Noon NZST/10 AM AEST/1 AM UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at:


Acceleration Institute

Iowa Acceleration Scale 3rd Edition, Complete Kit

Guidelines for Developing an Academic Acceleration Policy

Slay the Stay-Put Beast: Thoughts on Acceleration

Why Am I an Advocate for Academic Acceleration?

What Is Curriculum Compacting?

Why is Academic Acceleration (Still) So Controversial?

Academic Acceleration (YouTube 5:35)

What is so threatening about academic acceleration?

Acceleration Considerations

Should My Gifted Child Skip a Grade? 

A Time to Accelerate, A Time to Brake

Accelerating to What?

Good Things about Grade Acceleration

Successfully Advocating for Your Child’s Grade Skip

Academic Acceleration

Acceleration Options in the FBISD: Preparing the Gifted Child for Their Future (pdf)

Keller ISD Advanced Academics – Parent Resource Portal

Cybraryman’s Gifted and Talented Advocacy Page

#gtchat Blog: How to Advocate for Acceleration at Your School

Types of Acceleration and their Effectiveness

UT Austin High School: Early Graduation

Sprite’s Site: Columbus Cheetah, Myth Buster – Myth 6

Texas Statutory Authority on Acceleration

Photo courtesy of Hein Waschefort (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons  CC BY-SA 3.0

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad


How to Advocate for Acceleration at Your School

Acceleration How To Graphic

This week, #gtchat continued our series on acceleration and the new report A Nation Empowered with guest Dr. Ann Shoplik, administrator of The Acceleration Institute and co-editor of the report. Our topic of discussion was How to Advocate for Acceleration at Your School addressing both the needs of parents and teachers.

Ann Shoplik

Dr. Ann Shoplik

We first asked, “What factors should be considered when contemplating acceleration?” Dr. Shoplik suggested, “Academic achievement, ability, and aptitude; school and academic factors such as attendance, motivation, and attitude toward learning. Also, developmental factors such as physical size, small & large motor coordination as well as interpersonal skills, relationships with peers and teachers, outside-of-school activities. How important are athletics to student/family?” In addition, “Student and parent attitude toward acceleration; the school system’s attitude and support; plus planning for the future: what’s available?”

How do you begin to advocate for acceleration for a particular child? Any advocacy effort needs to begin with a good plan and fact-finding about available options. Lisa Van Gemert, Youth and Education Ambassador for Mensa, told us, “I like to start the conversation with teachers in this way, “We’re noticing this. What are you noticing?” Dr. Shoplik’s advice was to “begin at the source. Talk to teacher, gifted coordinator, and principal. Ask for help devising a challenging curriculum and program. Enlist the principal’s help. However, [remember that] many haven’t had opportunity to study acceleration in college.”

Carol Bainbridge, gifted expert at, then asked, “What do you do when those beginning moves don’t work? I’ve had many parents ask that question.” Dr. Shoplik recommended, “Take a “We’re on the same team” approach. Focus on what’s best for child: Proper placement and challenge. Use available tools: Iowa Acceleration Scale, A Nation Empowered. Share research.”

Advocating as a parent often requires a different approach than that of a teacher considering accelerating their students. “Share research with other parents, start a parent group for gifted. Many voices saying the same thing is helpful! Support local teachers and gifted coordinators who are advocating for your child. Work with your state gifted organization.Making policy changes is a long slow process. Focus on your child and what is best for then,” said Dr. Shoplik. Also, it important to “know the lingo”. Educators respond better if you talk their language! Karen Ryan, gifted specialist, added, “Follow up with the plan and talk with your child to be sure their needs are being met; they are making progress towards their goals.”

Dr. Shoplik recommended, “Take a “We’re on the same team” approach. Focus on what’s best for child: Proper placement and challenge.

When advocating for policy change within a school district as a teacher, Dr. Shoplik explained, “Learn the facts. Study the research. Understand the available resources. Use local schools as examples as you advocate in your school. Combine forces, share information with other local districts. Connect with your state gifted organization. Know your state’s acceleration policy and work to improve it, if needed. Find an advocate in the system. Are nearby districts accelerating? School boards like to keep up with neighbors!” A full transcript can be found at Storify.

Nation Empowered Cover

For our friends following this chat:10% discount on A Nation Empowered Enter: Coupon Empower1516. Limited time!



Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented and sponsored by is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7E/6C/5M/4P in the U.S., Midnight in the UK and Saturdays 11 AM NZST/9 AM AEST to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at:


Advocacy – Working with Your Child’s School

Snappy Comebacks for Grade Accelerated Children

Parenting Tips on Educational Advocacy

Genius Denied: How to Stop Wasting Our Brightest Young Minds (Amazon)

Academic Advocacy for Gifted Children

Successful Advocacy for Gifted Students (pdf)

Advocating for Exceptionally Gifted Young People: A Guide Book (pdf)

How to Advocate for a Bright Kid in a State with No Gifted Funding

Iowa Acceleration Scale Manual 3rd Edition (Amazon)

Acceleration Institute: Question & Answer

Advocating for Your Gifted Child within the Public School System

Gifted by State

The Advantages of Acceleration

Acceleration for Students in 8th Grade and Younger

Acceleration Institute: Annotated Bibliography

Guidelines for Developing an Academic Acceleration Policy

Advocating for Gifted Programs in Your Local Schools

Radical Acceleration of Highly Gifted Children (pdf)

Acceleration Institute

Acceleration Institute: States’ Acceleration Policies

Cybraryman’s Gifted Advocacy Page

Sprite’s Site: Columbus Cheetah, Myth Buster – Myth 6

Hoagies Gifted: Academic Acceleration

What About Early Entrance to Kindergarten?


Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad and PixabayCC0 Public Domain

Photos courtesy of Dr. Ann Shoplik.

Models in Gifted Education


Due to the sheer number of models in gifted education, it was decided that five models would be discussed during the course of our hour-long chat. Additional models will be briefly covered in this blog post. A full transcript of the chat may be found at Storify.

Models considered:

  • Renzulli’s School Wide Enrichment Model (SEM) ~ a widely used model which appeals to a broader definition of giftedness.
  • Betts’ Autonomous Learners Model (ALM) ~ a self-directed learning approach.
  • VanTassel-Baska’s Integrated Curriculum Model (ICM) ~ specifically high ability learners.
  • Gagné’s Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent ( DMGT) ~ distinguishes between natural ability & talent development.
  • Gentry’s Total School Cluster Grouping (TSCG) ~ employs differentiation within the framework of inclusion.


The first question was to ask, “Why there are so many different models in gifted education?” The consensus was that a wide variety of models allowed for greater choice to meet the needs of gifted students. It was also pointed out by several people that because there is no one definition of ‘giftedness’ that different models responded to particular definitions. Different models appeal to different school settings – rural, urban, suburban, region of the country. Each model’s perspective may be from different vantage points – intellectual, social-emotional, neurological (Gifted Challenges).

“Just like every gifted kid is different, every community, district, and school has its own needs and demands.” ~ Jeffrey Farley, Middle School Teacher in Beaumont, Texas

Certain models seemed better suited to either the elementary or secondary level. In fact, the moderator pointed out that several of the models had modules specific to each level. Some models of gifted education are geared toward self-contained classrooms more common in the lower grades K-3. Other models are been adapted for content specific areas of instruction.

Factors that might be considered to ensure the success of any chosen model included flexibility; availability of professional development so that all stakeholders fully understand the program is critical; sufficient budget to implement a new program; a mind-set that is supportive of gifted education in general; as well as parent and community support.

“We need more support and training for teachers in their higher education teacher prep programs!” ~ Toby Brown, PhD candidate teaching at Oklahoma State 

Would it be better to simply consider acceleration or multi-age classrooms as opposed to implementing a specific model? Academically, acceleration is an excellent option; other considerations–maturity, siblings, sports–still play a role. In the final analysis, the most important factor voiced by most of our chat participants was CHOICE! Every child is different and every child should have options to choose from that best meet their individual needs.


Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7/6 C & 4 PT in the U.S., midnight in the UK and Saturdays 1 PM NZ/11 AM AEDT to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Pageprovides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community.

Head Shot 2014-07-14About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at:


Individual Models and Links


School Wide Enrichment Model: “In the SEM, a talent pool of 15-20% of above average ability/high potential students is identified through a variety of measures including: achievement tests, teacher nominations, assessment of potential for creativity and task commitment, as well as alternative pathways of entrance (self-nomination, parent nomination, etc.). High achievement test and IQ test scores .automatically include a. student in the talent pool, enabling those students who are underachieving in their academic school work to be included.” ~  from the Executive Summary, Renzulli and Reis

Schoolwide Enrichment Model Book Cover

The Schoolwide Enrichment Model Executive Summary Renzulli/Reis

Research Supporting SEM & Extensions of Gifted Ed Pedagogy to Meet Needs of All Students

Preparing Students for Success by Helping Them Discover & Develop Their Passions


Autonomous Learners Model: ““The Autonomous Learner Model (ALM) was initially created to provide students with alternative learning environments. The main goal of the ALM is to create independent, self-directed learners. Ideally, students will become lifelong learners through the ALM. The philosophy of the ALM is “to do it with the gifted, and not to them.” This philosophy embodies the belief that teachers should become facilitators and students should become learners. Students will go through each of the five dimensions of the ALM and they will gradually gain more control over their own learning.” Models for the Gifted (website)

Autonomous Learners Model Book Cover

Independent Study in the Betts’ Autonomous Learner Model

Teach with Class ~ Using the Autonomous Learners Model

Autonomous Learners Model in the Shawnee Mission School District, KS


Integrated Curriculum Model: “ICM was specifically developed for high-ability learners based on current research evidence at the time of what worked with gifted learners. It has three dimensions: (a) advanced content, (b) high-level process and product work, and (c) intra-and interdisciplinary concept development and understanding.” Gifted Child Quarterly 2007 51: 342

Serving Our Gifted Children in a Normal Classroom (pdf) Margaret Hodgson

What Works in Curriculum for the Gifted (pdf) Joyce VanTassel-Baska


Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent: “Francois Gagné’s differentiated model of giftedness and talent considers behaviors that appear spontaneously easy different from those that require mastery through extensive training. According to Gagné, giftedness is a superior natural ability whereas a talent is an ability/skill that has been developed exceptionally well. From this perspective, a talent implies a gift, but a gift does not automatically imply a talent.” Duke TIP

A Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent (pdf) Gagné

Gagné’s Differentiated Model of Giftedness & Talent from DukeTIP


Total School Cluster Grouping: “Cluster grouping model that takes into account the achievement levels of all students and places students in classrooms yearly in order to reduce the number of achievement levels in each classroom and facilitate teachers’ differentiation of curriculum and instruction for all students and thus increase student achievement.” ~ From Total School Cluster Grouping & Differentiation, by Marcia Gentry and Rebecca L. Mann, p. 9

Total School Clustering and Differentiation Book

Total School Cluster Grouping & Differentiation (Amazon) Marcia Gentry

Total School Cluster Grouping (pdf) via Iowa TAG Presentation Slides by Marcia Gentry

NRC G/T: Promoting Student Achievement & Exemplary Classroom Practices Through Cluster Grouping (pdf) Gentry

All Together Now?” in Education Next Winter 2011 by Mike Petrilli


 Additional Models


Parallel Curriculum Model (PCM) ~ Tomlinson: “The Parallel Curriculum Model is a set of four interrelated designs that can be used singly, or in combination, to create or revise existing curriculum units, lessons, or tasks. Each of the four parallels offers a unique approach for organizing content, teaching, and learning that is closely aligned to the special purpose of each parallel.” ~ Parallel Curriculum Model Powerpoint Presentation, New Zealand Ministry of Education

Parallel Curriculum Model Book Cover

Presently Gifted (website): Parallel Curriculum Model

Introduction to the Parallel Curriculum Model (pdf)

Introducing the Parallel Curriculum Model (pdf)

The Parallel Curriculum: A Design to Develop Learner Potential and Challenge Advanced Learners (Amazon) Tomlinson and Kaplan et al


Talents Unlimited (TU) ~ Schlichter: “Talents Unlimited (TU) is an empirically based staff development model structured to help educators develop the creative and critical thinking skills, or talents, of their students.  This model embraces the philosophy that traditional academic success is not the only indicator of somebody’s ability to think and solve problems, and that a person can express his or her intellectual potential in a variety of forms.  The model categorizes six talent areas– Productive Thinking, Decision Making, Planning, Forecasting, Communication, and Academic– and outlines a staff development program to help teachers nurture each of these talents in the classroom.” ~ from Models for the Gifted (website)

Talents Unlimited. A Critical and Creative Thinking Skills Model. Awareness Packet (pdf)

Talents Unlimited, Inc. Prezi by Jennefer Lowke 9/30/2013

Talents Unlimited (website)


Purdue Three-Stage Enrichment Model for Elementary Gifted Learners (PACE) ~ Feldhusen: “Regardless of age or content area, the core goal of this model is to move the student from novice toward practitioner. This model can be implemented as a wide-reaching program, or as a smaller curriculum. Through three distinct stages, this model begins with covering basic levels of knowledge, continues with the application of that knowledge and skills, and finishes with students solving real-life problems. Because of its simple steps, this model is not difficult to implement, needing only a variety of resources for students to interact with at the second and third stages. This model is both flexible and adaptable to many different settings and is low cost.” ~ from Models for the Gifted

International Handbook of Giftedness and Talent P. 352

Encyclopedia of Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent P. 323


Multiple Intelligences (MI) ~ Howard Gardner: “According to this theory, “we are all able to know the world through language, logical-mathematical analysis, spatial representation, musical thinking, the use of the body to solve problems or to make things, an understanding of other individuals, and an understanding of ourselves. Where individuals differ is in the strength of these intelligences – the so-called profile of intelligences -and in the ways in which such intelligences are invoked and combined to carry out different tasks, solve diverse problems, and progress in various domains.” ~ from “The Distance Learning Technology Resource Guide,” by Carla Lane at Multiple Intelligences

Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences (pdf)

Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences – Emory (pdf)

Big Thinkers: Howard Gardner on Multiple Intelligences at Edutopia (video)



More Models (All links from Models for the Gifted (Google Site):

Multiple Menu Model

Levels of Service Approach

Catalyst Model


General Links on Models in Gifted Education:

Models for the Gifted (Google Site)

Systems & Models for Developing Programs for Gifted & Talented, 2E (Amazon) Renzulli & Gubbins

Tough Choices: Ten Curriculum Models (Prezi)

Introduction to Definitions and Conceptions of Giftedness (pdf) Robert J. Sternberg

Curriculum for Highly Able Learners That Conforms to General Education and Gifted Education Quality Indicators


Links from chat participants:

Cybraryman’s Design Thinking Page

Cybraryman’s Understanding by Design Page

Cybraryman’s IEP Individualized Education Programs

Young, Gifted, and Black: What I’ve Learned While Raising a Gifted Child

Common Myths of Gifted Education Part 2

Gifted Education Elitist venspiredPhoto courtesy of  (all rights reserved)

This chat was the second part in a series, “Common Myths of Gifted Education”. It became apparent soon after chat started that these myths evoke strong emotions in all stakeholders in the gifted community. A full transcript can be found here. To view the post from Week 1, click here.

I’ve included below some of the comments made during the chat.

In response to the myth – ‘gifted education programs are elitist’:

Lisa Van Gemert @gifted_guru “There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people” ~ Thomas Jefferson. GT kids are qualitatively different.

Krissy Venosdale @venspired  R5) Different not better.Needs met, not privileged.Elitism insinuates the idea that it’s a “prize.” Real prize? Understanding.

Krissy Venosdale @venspired  R5) I like to tell people that we need to stop focus on high-achieve and focus more on thinking deep.

In reference to the possibility of a child being twice-exceptional: StemMom Advocate  R6: head in fire, feet in ice. Nothing fits.

Please note that our next chat will be Sunday, January 26, 2014 @ 4P ET/3P CT/21.00 UK/Monday 8.00 AUS (ET). We will be having one chat a month at this new time.


Ensuring that Diverse Learners Participate in Gifted Education Programs & Services 

Identifying Gifted Children from Diverse Populations 

Classroom Instruction & Teacher Training for Gifted Students from Diverse Populations

Diversity Focus in the NAGC-CEC Teacher Preparation Standards in Gifted Education

Optimizing the Potential of Gifted, Low-Income African American Students: Lessons Learned (pdf)

To Be Gifted and Learning Disabled: Strategies for Helping Bright Students with LD, ADHD and More (book)

Designing Services & Programs for High-Ability Learners A Guidebook for Gifted Education (book)

Critical Issues in the Identification of Gifted Students with Co-Existing Disabilities

Gifted But Learning Disabled: A Puzzling Paradox 

Gifted Children with Learning Disabilities: A Review of the Issues 

LD Gifted and Talented 

Bright Kids, Poor Grades & What You Can Do about It 

Poor Results for High Achievers 

Columbus Cheetah, Myth Buster – Myth 8” from Jo Freitag on  Sprite’s Site 

Columbus Cheetah, Myth Buster – Myth 6” from Jo Freitag on Sprite’s Site 

Cybraryman’s Twice-Exceptional Children

The Dyslexic Advantage (Amazon) by Drs. Brock and Fernette Eide

The Advantages of Acceleration by Lisa Van Gemert

Gifted and Talented – High Intelligence is a Special Need – So Treat It That Way

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