Radical Acceleration of Highly Gifted Children
Gross, M. & Van Vliet, H.
Gifted Education Research, Resource and Information Centre
The University of New South Wales.
2002

BOOK REVIEW (Davidson Institute) - The reviewer finds this an excellent resource on acceleration for educators, administrators and parents who plan programs and make intervention decisions for gifted and talented students. Readers can easily access their topic of interest in this usable and friendly tool.

Reviewed by the Davidson Institute for Talent Development.

Radical acceleration of highly gifted children: An annotated bibliography of international research on highly gifted children who graduate from high school three or more years early, compiled by Miraca Gross and Helen van Vliet, offers a synthesis of research on radical acceleration. This annotated bibliography is an excellent resource on acceleration for educators, administrators and parents who plan programs and make intervention decisions for gifted and talented students. This reference tool comprises research, descriptive articles, personal accounts, reviews and book chapters. It summarizes and critiques a range of these academic articles concerning the effects of radical acceleration.

The ease with which a reader can access their topic of interest is what makes this publication standout as a usable and friendly tool. The topic index organizes the information so readers are led to the pertinent research with a quick glance. Concluding each abstract is a brief synopsis and commentary, which can aid readers in attaining the information they may need to successfully advocate for radical acceleration.

The literature included in this compilation identifies variables that predict successful radical acceleration. A number of articles outline successful strategies for implementing programs for these students. For instance, there are suggestions to help parents approach school principals and teachers regarding the education of their gifted children. Radical acceleration can have transitional pitfalls, and the included studies show that active involvement of the student in their educational planning is imperative. Though most of the literature in this bibliography contains studies that show the positive effects of radical acceleration, there are debatable scenarios presented. Discussions like this help the reader gain a more rounded view of the variables that affect the success of radical acceleration. Other variables discussed include individual student needs, advanced placement courses, mentors, and support systems.

The cognitive outcomes of radical acceleration are discussed in a number of articles. The vast majority of radically accelerated students are high achievers. One article, "A Comparison of Eight Early College Entrance Programs", compares and contrasts eight programs that allow students early college entrance. "Programs such as these have also been shown to prevent boredom. Students who appear to benefit most from early entry to college or university are those who are strongly motivated and who possess considerable maturity" (p. 22). Other areas of cognitive outcomes are presented as well, including intellectual challenge, research opportunities, specialization at a young age, and career paths. The research indicates generally positive affective outcomes for radically accelerated students. While many gifted students are disillusioned by the learning experience in a traditional age-appropriate setting and feel different because of their interests and capabilities, friendships and social opportunities are much more abundant due to placement with like-ability students who share their interests. Studies showing self-confidence, independence, maturity and motivation are high among students who have been radically accelerated. As one case study detailed, a well-designed plan that includes a support system can maximize the social as well as the academic benefits.

The many articles offered in this reference attest to the growing evidence in support of radical acceleration for the profoundly gifted. The research debunks the previous myths that often taint educators' and administrators' outlook regarding radical acceleration. More evidence is available that supports the astonishing benefits of this instructive provision for both intellectual development, as well as their social and emotional well-being. Gross and van Vliet have collected much of the best evidence and research into this volume, which serves to inform and encourage greater discussion of radical acceleration. The collection is an excellent reference for professionals interested in the field as well as parents advocating for their children.


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