One of the least expensive accommodations a school can use to meet the needs of a gifted student is grade-skipping. If a self-contained gifted program is not available, acceleration becomes a viable option. Unfortunately, social/emotional adjustment is an area many educators and administrators isolate as a deterrent from allowing a student to advance. They often fear the student will not “fit in” or will somehow be “ruined” by the experience. Contrary to this belief, most profoundly intelligent students not only excel academically, but also flourish socially when placed with their academic peers.
The overwhelming research on grade acceleration has found there to be no harm socially or emotionally to students. In fact, among the five most important points noted in The Templeton National Report on Acceleration, A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America’s Brightest Students, is the statement that “Gifted children tend to be socially and emotionally more mature than their age-mates. For many bright students, acceleration provides a better personal maturity match with classmates” (p. 2). Thus, profoundly gifted students may actually stand out MORE with their age-mates than with their academic peers. Therefore it makes sense to place students in a classroom where they can be learning with their academic peers.
As a nation, educators have no problem accelerating a student who is musically or athletically talented, yet we hold back those who are academically talented. Wouldn’t the social and emotional aspects affect these students too? Many teachers and coaches don’t think twice about moving a student up in their programs if that student demonstrates readiness for more advanced work or feels underchallenged. The same mindset should apply equally to academic programs.
If a student is a potential candidate for a grade-skip and the social/emotional aspect is still in question, the Iowa Acceleration Scale is an invaluable tool. As a research-based guide, it looks at the whole child by using a question format and subsequent rating scales to assist the child-study team with determining and implementing a grade-skip.
For further affirmation that grade-skipping positively affects profoundly gifted students, here are some research-based readings:
- 2015 update – A Nation Empowered: Evidence Trumps the Excuses that Hold Back America’s Brightest Students by Assouline, S., Colangelo, N., VanTassel-Baska, J. & Lupkowski-Shoplik, A.
- A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America’s Brightest Students by Colangelo, N., Assouline, S. & Gross, M.
- Genius Denied: How to Stop Wasting Our Brightest Young Minds by Bob and Jan Davidson with Laura Vanderkam.
- Iowa Acceleration Scale by Susan Assouline, Nicholas Colangelo, Ann Lupowski-Shoplik, Jonathan Lipscomb, and Leslie Forstadt.