The recently released report, A Nation Empowered, is a 10 year follow-up to the seminal report, A Nation Deceived, and was the subject of our chat this week with Dr. Ann Shoplik. Dr. Shoplik is the Administrator of the Acceleration Institute at Belin-Blank (University of Iowa) and Co-editor of the new report. Dr. Katie McClarty, who contributed a chapter to the new report, also joined us.
We asked Dr. Shoplik why a new report was written. She explained. “Acceleration is the most-researched, yet under-utilized program option for gifted kids. Policy and practice haven’t kept up with the research on acceleration. Short and long-term research evidence is clear: Acceleration works! Colleges of Education don’t teach acceleration. We must inform administrators and teachers. [And] It was time to update the classic report!” From the report, [A Nation Empowered] was “designed to empower educators with evidence to use in implementing the various types of acceleration. Robust empirical evidence is the most effective means of empowering educators and parents of gifted students.”
Despite all the research evidence, schools, parents, and teachers still have not accepted the idea of acceleration. There seem to be as many myths about acceleration as there are about being gifted. Combine this with concern about a child’s social-emotional development, lack of experience, a limited knowledge base, personal bias on the part of many educators and it’s easy to see why acceleration has not been implemented on a wide-scale basis.
However, it is interesting to note that similar concerns are rarely voiced when discussing student athletes:
“Imagine, if you can, a football coach putting his arm around his starting tailback and telling him the players on the other team are going to feel bad if the tailback runs past them. “So when you get the ball,” the coach tells his player, “ease up.” No coach would ever say that. And yet, in our classrooms, we tell our smart kids, in subtle ways, “Be careful about how you show your smarts. Don’t be too showy.” A Nation Empowered Vol. 1 P. 39
What are some signs to look for that a student should be accelerated? The number one answer was “boredom”! This happens “when there is a mismatch between the student’s intellectual level and the level of school work,” Dr. Shoplik told us. Teachers, school psychologists, or gifted/talented coordinators may make recommendations for acceleration, but often don’t.
The benefits of acceleration are well-documented. Students who are accelerated demonstrate exceptional achievements years later. Dr. Shoplik said, “Failing to accelerate an able student is likely to have negative effects on motivation, productivity; may even lead to dropping out. Achieving success in a class that is challenging bolsters confidence, raises expectations and alters mindsets.”
It was surprising to learn that there are 20 different types of acceleration! This allows it to be tailored to the needs of the student. Dr. Shoplik elaborated, “Students not ready for a grade skip can accelerate in 1 subject [or opt for] a combined class, distance learning, dual enrollment, or credit by exam.” A full transcript of the 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 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 new Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.
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: email@example.com
Academic Acceleration for Gifted Students: A Nation Empowered from Blog Talk Radio
The Advantages of Acceleration via #gtchat Advisor Lisa Van Gemert
As A Nation, How Can We Best Empower Our Gifted Kids? via Jonathan Wai