Growing Up Gifted: Developing the Potential of Children at Home and at School
Clark, B.
ISBN: 0130944378
Simon & Schuster

BOOK REVIEW (Davidson Institute) - This article offers a brief review of Barbara Clark's Growing Up Gifted. Clark provides an overview of the research on acceleration (or grade skipping) for highly gifted children. The research shows "almost uniformly positive results." Clark lists several advantages for accelerating highly gifted students.

Reviewed by Davidson Institute for Talent Development.

Acceleration in schooling is necessary to meet the educational needs of exceptionally gifted students. Acceleration results in the student completing formal school in less time than is usually required, and may be accomplished by early entrance to kindergarten, skipping grades, advanced placement, or receiving credit by examination.

In Growing Up Gifted Barbara Clark reviewed the research on acceleration including studies of Alexander & Skinner, 1980; Anderson, 1960; Bish & Fliegler, 1959; Braga, 1969; Brody & Benbow, 1987; Fund for the Advancement of Education, 1957; Gallagher, 1966; Justman, 1953, Lehman, 1953; Lucito, 1964; Morgan, Tennant, & Goldman, 1980; Plowman & Rice, 1967; Pressey, 1955; Reynolds, 1962; Terman & Oden, 1947; Worcester, 1955.

She reports that the research found that acceleration had "almost uniformly positive results" for gifted students. Clark synthesized the research and summarizes the following rationales and advantages for accelerating gifted students:

  • Gifted students are inclined to select older companions because their levels of interests are often more similar. Neither the method nor the age of acceleration appears to be of consequence.

  • Acceleration can be used in any school.

  • Acceleration allows capable students to enter their careers sooner, resulting in more productivity.

  • A larger proportion of students who are accelerated in primary and secondary school attend highly selective colleges than gifted students who are not.

  • Because they spend less time in school, gifted students' educational costs are lowered.

  • Accelerated students do as well as or often better than the older students in their classes.

  • There is less boredom and dissatisfaction for the bright student. Social and emotional adjustments are generally high, in most reports above average, when accelerated.

  • In general, teachers and administrators are opposed to acceleration, whereas parents and students are for it. Possible reasons given for the negative attitude of some educators are the convenience of lockstep, chronological grade placement, ignorance of research, discredited belief in social maladjustment, and state laws preventing early admission.

  • To be successful, acceleration must be continuous and coordinated.

Permission Statement


Contributed by: Parent on 10/16/2004
Parents of public school students are just now figuring out what homeschool families have known for years: acceleration works! The industry of mass education resists acceleration only because it creates complexity for the system. Every time we accelerated our children in public schools, we proved the system, and the ridiculous "socialization" argument completely wrong. Frustrated with the silliness of the public school system, we turned to homeschooling. Our 7th grade son is excelling at AP Calculus and, thanks to homeschooling, is at ease with much older students and adults. This is in contrast to his mass educated peers, who seem to have a difficult time putting together a complete sentence in conversation.

Contributed by: Parent on 9/18/2004
After 5 years of frustration in grade level classes our school has accelerated my daughter. This has been the best thing for her. No more tears every night, just discussions on challenging subject matter. Our school has never done this before, but were willing to try - thank goodness!

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