Developing academic acceleration policies

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Research tells us what works to serve gifted and talented students, including how best to identify these students and how to use acceleration strategies appropriately. A new resource, Developing Academic Acceleration Policies: Whole Grade, Early Entrance, and Single Subject, offers direction and clarity to school districts on gifted education practices, guidance many practitioners lack today.

Gifted and talented children need and deserve appropriate levels of challenge and stimulation as they reach for their personal best. Unfortunately, far too many children experience low expectations in their classrooms. Recent research by Dr. Scott Peters and others reveals that up to 10 percent of children perform four or more grade levels above the grade level standards used in their classrooms.

Acceleration strategies—such as advancing students an entire grade level or in specific subjects—are one of the most effective approaches to help ensure all children who demonstrate readiness for more advanced instruction receive quality gifted and talented programming. They allow students to access curriculum content, skills, and understandings before their expected age or grade level. Rather than requiring gifted children to endure repetitive work with content they have already mastered, educators can use a variety of acceleration strategies to challenge these learners with more stimulating and enriched content.

NAGC is pleased to collaborate with the Belin-Blank Center at the University of Iowa, the Council of State Directors of Programs for the Gifted (CSDPG), and the Association for the Gifted (TAG-CEC) on Developing Academic Acceleration Policies; and in promoting a well-researched practice with benefits to cognitive, social, and emotional development when used appropriately. As advocates, we continually seek and encourage use of strategies to help society understand the nature and needs of gifted children, to create supportive environments for their learning, and to implement research-based practices that help high-ability children from all backgrounds reach their full potential. Developing Academic Acceleration Policies supports these efforts and shines a light on a strategy that works!

As the authors note, Developing Academic Acceleration Policies “includes a brief discussion about policy, recommended elements of an acceleration policy, corresponding checklists, and an abbreviated summary of research supporting academic acceleration. It provides extensive information and support in the appendices, which are available on the Acceleration Institute website.”

Sally C. Krisel is board president, and M. René Islas is executive director of the National Association for Gifted Children.

The views expressed herein represent the opinions of the authors and not necessarily the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.