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.
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 (YouTube 5:35)
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad