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Advocating for a Grade Skip:
A Portfolio of Research

by Sandy

In advocating my son's skipping 6th grade this coming year and moving directly to 7th...

Today I took the principal a portfolio of a dozen articles regarding highly gifted (HG) kids, acceleration, and made particular note of that old bugaboo - social development in HG kids... that kind of thing.

I put the papers in one of those folders with the clear slip-in pockets. The cover was translucent so I put his Stanford-Binet results on the front 'title' page and slipped in two pictures - his soccer team and and a picture of him in his driving suit in front of his racecar... just your basic 'normal', well-adjusted kid!

Before inserting the pages, I carefully highlighted all references to positive research on acceleration, how these kids don't 'fit' the normal expectations, positive research and experiences with that old devil 'social development' and all the references to education's stubborn resistance to implementing 30+ years of research on gifted kids.

The principal was genuinely impressed by the package and the substantiating research (he really liked the highlighting! He's a busy man and likes to 'cut to the chase'!). I went through the packet and pointed out some of the references and how many researchers report positive results both socially and academically with gifted kids - particularly the high-end kids. I made sure to point out all the references to education's stubborn resistance to meeting gifted kids' unique needs even in the face of solid research.

I also made sure to point out the differences between 'levels of giftedness' and compared them to the differences between the opposite end of the spectrum. Nobody would question the differences there and yet all gifted kids are lumped together like they are a single unit with identical needs... hmmmm!

With all the articles available, it took me a while to pare down what I wanted to include, but I think I got a representative sampling that supported my argument for acceleration... I should know on Monday morning.......

Here's a list of the articles I included, but then every situation will be slightly different...

  1. Front page: Stanford-Binet LM test results, with two photographs of T's extracurricular activities
    Purpose: to show he actually gets out of the house and away from books!

  2. www.hoagiesgifted.org/current_use.htm, Current Use of the Stanford-Binet, Form L-M, by Barbara Gilman, M.S. and Annette Revel, M.A.
    Purpose: to ward off uninformed counselors who might insist the SB L-M was no longer valid

  3. ITBS test scores printout (6th grade ITBS taken in 5th grade)
    Purpose: to show above grade level achievement in data familiar to educators

  4. http://web.archive.org/web/20011030223837/http://www.eddept.wa.edu.au/gifttal/giftsexc.htm Gifted and Talented - Students with Exceptional Potential
    Purpose: to graphically demonstrate the % of gifted kids in the population and why teachers don't see hg/eg/pg kids very often, if ever

  5. www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10316.aspx The Miseducation of Our Gifted Children, by Ellen Winner, in Education Week, October 16, 1996
    Purpose: to make three basic points a) there are major "difference(s) between moderately and profoundly gifted children" and b) grade skipping is beneficial and is not harmful, c) even in gifted classes the very gifted are frequently under challenged

  6. www.hoagiesgifted.org/eric/e526.html Should Gifted Students Be Grade-Advanced? ERIC Digest E526, by Sharon J. Lynch, Ph.D.
    Purpose: to point out pitfalls of non-accelerated gifted kids by answering 8 commonly asked questions - particularly pointing out that educators are slow to implement results of research

  7. www.bctf.bc.ca/PSAs/AEGTCCBC/publications/broch/accel.html What educators of gifted learners need to know about... Acceleration
    Purpose: lists common forms of acceleration, pros of acceleration but with caveats included

  8. www.hoagiesgifted.org/eric/e477.html Helping Your Highly Gifted Child, ERIC EC Digest #E477, by Stephanie Tolan, 1990
    Purpose: lists 3 primary needs of the gifted, lack of gifted recognition by teachers, how gifted learn differently from others, lack fit, pro-acceleration, schools that don't change, why it's so hard for gifted kids to get along with age mates

  9. www.hoagiesgifted.org Hoagie's Gifted Education Page and Hoagies' on Articles and Research (now split into many pages, based on topic)
    Purpose: to display a portion of the easily accessible information available to those who would educate themselves and others!

  10. www.nexus.edu.au/teachstud/gat/mackenz.htm Acceleration: an expanded vision, by Lynne Mackenzie-Sykes, Educational Consultant -- no longer available
    Purpose: favorable research examples of acceleration, chart containing 'Range and types of accelerative options', 8 positive benefits of acceleration, 8 possible consequences of not acceleration, lack of research supporting negative social/emotional effects of acceleration, recommendations regarding acceleration proposals, methods to increase effectiveness, educators continued resistance to research

  11. www.hoagiesgifted.org/we_have_learned.htm What We've Learned About Gifted Children - 1979 - 2002, Linda Kreger Silverman, Ph.D., Director
    Purpose: to detail some background characteristics of gifted children

  12. www.qagtc.org.au/charprob.htm Queensland Association for Gifted & Talented Children's chart of Characteristics of Gifted and Talented Children and Possible Associated Problems

P.S. He got the grade skip!

Postscript to the Portfolio... March 26, 2000

Radical acceleration just sounds, well, radical! However, for some children, it is not so much a push up through the grades as a helping hand up to an appropriate comfort level. For our son, continued improvement in confidence and self-esteem help wipe out damage done by a few previous classes in which underachievement was, in effect, being taught, with expectations far below capability. Realistic challenges now replace unrealistic expectations of no-effort perfection.

While there are clearly some children who require even more radical acceleration than ours, three grade skips have placed him in a very cooperative, academically focused high school with great teachers and flexible scheduling opportunities. And, as a result of successful completion of classes by a handful of young local students, some colleges in our area are now willing to consider enrollment of younger nontraditional students on a case-by-case basis. It is as perfect a situation as we could hope for and our son is now happily challenged in a supportive educational environment. We wish the same for all of you.

Sincerely, Sandy

We also used a disclaimer statement, taking the social and emotional responsibility for the success or failure of the grade skip off the school's shoulders, which may help in some cases. A template for the disclaimer is included here for your use:

[ Date ]
Parent Request for (________)th Grade Placement

We, the undersigned parents of (_____), request a waiver to place our son in the (_____) grade for the FY (__) school year at (________) School. We base this request on the following information:
bulletStanford-Binet LM IQ score of (____)
bullet(____)th grade ITBS composite scores of (____) and (____) percentile
bulletPrevious multi-grade class placements with additional individual advanced curriculum
bulletRecommendation for (____)th grade placement by Mr. (_____), lead teacher at (_______) Elementary School, and clinical psychologist, Dr. (________________)
bulletCurrent educational research citing the positive effects of acceleration (see attachments)

We believe (__________)'s academic performance this year and in years past in math, reading, and other academic areas has been exceptional. Further academic testing has shown that he is performing at a (__________) grade equivalent or higher in most cognitive and academic areas. His (____)th grade ITBS scores (out of level testing a year above his current placement) were (______)NPR in reading and (______)NPR in math.

Current research fully documents the positive and successful outcomes of acceleration and the dramatic consequences of an inappropriate education. Supporting documentation is enclosed.

We understand that this request carries unknown factors that may or may not affect our child’s future with regard to performance, social development, emotional stability, and his overall well being. As (_______)’s parents, we understand and accept responsibility for his current development and believe this decision will contribute positively to his future development.

We appreciate the (___________) School System for its long tradition of excellence and appreciate the Board’s and Superintendent’s favorable decision with regard to this request.

Sincerely,

_______________________ ______________________
Parent Signature Parent Signature
 
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