Welcome back from winter vacation! We hope your second semester is off to a nice start and things are going well. The Educators Guild is now offering presentations nationwide to schools and faculty interested in learning more about gifted students, for the cost of traveling expenses. Presentations can be tailored to various topics including:
The international guidelines for acceleration suggest that grade acceleration should occur at natural transition points, therefore with spring break and summer vacation around the corner, this seems to be an appropriate newsletter to cover the topic of acceleration, also known as grade skipping. Over the years, studies have addressed many aspects of acceleration, including common educator concerns such as its effects on social and emotional development as well as academic achievement. This significant body of research supports the use of grade acceleration for highly able students. Yet, many schools are still resistant to acceleration, making the option an uncommon practice in many districts or schools.
One Family’s Perspective on Acceleration – Featured Article
The journey through grade acceleration looks different for each family. However, similar questions are asked about the process and the outcome. Read one family’s reflections on their experience, from both the parent and the child’s point of view.
Question: What has been the best part of being accelerated?
Parent: The best part has absolutely been the fact that the classroom expectations were no longer ridiculously low for Alex. He was accepted into kindergarten at age 4 1/2, already reading fairly well, and skipped mid-year from 3rd to 4th grade. He is now in 8th grade, and so far, these kids seem to be the best overall match. Acceleration is always a compromise, and should attempt to make the best of an otherwise unworkable situation. So the “best part” I feel has been that the traditional school experience was still possible for Alex.
Child: All of my classes now challenge me and I get to experience being with people of different ages.
Question: How has the experience been socially?
Parent: This is hard to answer, because it assumes that we know what might have happened had we not skipped. Alex seems to be just fine socially and we get positive feedback from his teachers that he is interacting appropriately with his classmates, but his core group of friends is rather small. Whether this is due to his younger age, his advanced ability, or simply his personality is hard to discern. Alex is not the type of kid to be ruffled by any comments. He has and continues to receive a lot due to his unique situation. Not only is he two years accelerated in a school that doesn’t accelerate, but he is placed an additional three years up for math. Even his high school “peers” have overall accepted him at face value, and he does not experience teasing. He is very blasé about the situation.
Child: I have friends my age that live near me, but I can’t make friends in school that are my age. But I do have friends that are my grade..
Question: What were some of the obstacles you had to overcome with the acceleration?
Parent: Acceleration was not an easy sell to our school district. In fact, we achieved the early kindergarten start through a private school, as the public school would not even consider such a placement. Getting their buy-in over the years was the hardest obstacle.
Child: I never completely learned cursive and my hand gets tired if I have to write a lot at the higher grade level.
Question: Is there anything you would change about your experience?
Parent: One regret is that band has not worked out for Alex. He accelerated the year that instrumental instruction began, and started off in 5th grade slightly behind. He caught up and did well, and continued to play in the 7th grade, but his high school schedule in 8th made band impossible. It was in my mind a necessary sacrifice; had it been his primary passion, we may have made other decisions.
Child: I would take my non-core classes (art, music, gym, etc.) with kids my age.
Parent: All said and done, acceleration has been a very positive experience for Alex, but I do second guess other possible solutions. Most of our decisions have involved a considerable amount of compromise, and I think it is a pretty adequate fit from both our perspective and the school’s.
I cannot say enough how acceleration is merely a compromise. The individual needs of any accelerated child will still have to be considered. I believe that any child smart enough for full grade acceleration will also be smart enough to continue to need enrichment/etc in the new grade as well. It’s a compromise, not a perfect solution.
Whole Grade Acceleration Success Stories
Compiled by a group of parents, this article highlights 15 successful grade accelerations from the parents’ perspectives.
A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America's Brightest Students
Some of America's brightest gifted students are held back and left behind, according to The Templeton National Report on Acceleration. This easy-to-read, user-friendly report explains why many schools, parents and teachers have not yet come to terms with acceleration - despite overwhelming, research-based evidence in its favor.
The Iowa Acceleration Scale, 3rd Edition
Based upon the research and clinical experiences of the professional staff at The Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development, the Iowa Acceleration Scale provides a systematic and thorough approach to considering grade acceleration for individual students. It is meant to be used in a team setting to discuss the strengths and potential difficulties for the particular student being considered for acceleration.
The effects of acceleration on the social and emotional development of gifted students
In the book, Academic Precocity: Aspects of its Development, author Lynn Pollins discusses acceleration as it relates to the student’s social and emotional development.
Davidson Institute Updates
2011 THINK Summer Institute
Applications will continue to be accepted for the 2011 THINK Summer Institute, which will run July 9 through July 30. Students can earn six college credits at this three-week residential summer program on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno. To qualify, students must be 13 to 16 years old during the program dates and meet the minimum qualifying test scores. Space is limited, so hurry and apply today before the final application deadline on February 9, 2011!
2011 Davidson Fellows Scholarship Applications
Ranked #2 on U.S.News & World Report’s 7 Prestigious Undergrad Scholarships, Davidson Fellows scholarships allow young people under the age of 18 have the opportunity to earn a $50,000, $25,000 or $10,000 scholarship in recognition of a significant piece of work in the categories of Science, Technology, Mathematics, Music, Literature and Philosophy, or a project that represents Outside the Box thinking. The application deadline of March 2 for the 2011 Davidson Fellows scholarships is fast-approaching - Apply today!
Davidson Young Scholar Applications Available
The Davidson Young Scholars program provides FREE services designed to nurture and support profoundly gifted young people and their families, including talent development and educational advocacy, an online community, annual get-togethers, and the Ambassador Program. Applications are due the 1st of each month. For more information, see the How to Apply and Qualification Criteria pages.
The Davidson Academy of Nevada
At The Davidson Academy of Nevada, a free public school, the abilities, strengths and interests of profoundly gifted middle and high school students are encouraged and supported. Those who perform at an academic level of advanced middle school or higher in all subjects and score in the 99.9th percentile on IQ or college entrance tests are encouraged to apply. Please review the Application Review Process page for more information.
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The Davidson Institute for Talent Development