Advocating for a Grade Skip:
A Portfolio of Research
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',
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
- Front page: Stanford-Binet LM test results, with two photographs of T's
Purpose: to show he actually gets out of the house and away from books!
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no longer valid
- ITBS test scores printout (6th grade ITBS taken in 5th grade)
Purpose: to show above grade level achievement in data familiar to educators
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
The Miseducation of Our Gifted Children, by Ellen Winner, in
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
Should Gifted Students Be Grade-Advanced? ERIC Digest E526, by Sharon J.
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
What educators of gifted learners need to know about... Acceleration
Purpose: lists common forms of acceleration, pros of acceleration but with
Helping Your Highly Gifted Child, ERIC EC Digest #E477, by Stephanie Tolan,
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
- 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!
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
What We've Learned About Gifted Children - 1979 - 2002, Linda Kreger
Silverman, Ph.D., Director
Purpose: to detail some background characteristics of gifted children
Queensland Association for Gifted & Talented Children's chart of Characteristics
of Gifted and Talented Children and Possible Associated
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.
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:
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 childs 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 Boards and Superintendents favorable
decision with regard to this request.