This week during the Challenging Advanced Learners Academy held at the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater (a fantastic event for gifted newbies and veterans alike), a participant questioned the value of grade acceleration, stating her school principal was totally against it since it "really messes kids up."
And yes, I know, a lot of people have horror stories of acceleration. Someone they know had a lonely childhood with no friends . . . or never went to prom . . . or dropped out of college . . . or became a recluse . . . etc. These personal anecdotes grow into urban legends. But the research tells another story: grade and subject acceleration - done appropriately - are two of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to provide gifted children with the challenge they need.
The Iowa Acceleration Scale is the very best resource for determining if acceleration is right. Earlier acceleration experiences in our district always felt hit or miss, but our recommendations were spot on once we began using it. We also monitored academic progress and socio-emotional concerns throughout the students' school years to assure they had the necessary support, counseling and advocacy.
The list of kids I know for whom acceleration was a life-saver goes on and on. To name a few, literally from A to Z: Amanda, Ben, Crystal, Drew, Evan, Faye, Gina, Henry, Ian, Jiang, Karen, Lauren, Mike, Noah, Peter, Quinn, Raza, Sarah, Tommy, Ulrike, Verne, Wynona, Xavier, Ying and Zou!
Here are just a handful of links to articles that tell the rest of the story:
Kulik and Kulik: Effects of Accelerated Instruction on StudentsHoagies: Academic Acceleration
Acceleration? The sky's the limit!