Which is better, skipping a grade or two and being average for that grade level versus being an advanced student in a lower grade level?

Written Sep 6, 2016

The Research

Students who are accelerated do extremely well academically after they skip. On achievement tests, bright accelerated students perform just as well as bright, older non-accelerated students.

When a grade-skip is done correctly, the accelerated student will still be among the very best students in the new, advanced grade.

Social Concerns

When bright children learn in a class of students who are not as bright as they are, their academic self esteem can get a bit inflated. When they are accelerated to be with students who know as much as they do, they develop a more realistic self-perception and their self-esteem may dip a little for a short time.

almost all bright students who are screened carefully and allowed to enter school early are as socially well-adjusted as their older classmates. In short, younger students do make friends. In fact, they are happier with older students who share their interests than they are with age-peers.

The above excerpts are quoted from A Nation Deceived, a 2-volume report which summarizes research on options for gifted children’s education.

The below table is from A Nation Empowered, a follow up study from the Acceleration Institute.

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Horror Stories

No records are kept that systematically detail how many students benefit from acceleration.

In light of the push for educational standards and school accountability (for example, the No Child Left Behind legislation), studies detail how many at-risk and learning-disabled students receive curriculum adjustment based on academic need. Unlike the extensive record keeping that surrounds at-risk students, schools, states, and the federal government tend not to keep records documenting the prevalence of and attitudes about acceleration. This is particularly true for academically talented students in elementary and middle schools. Question & Answer

Anecdotally, there are indications that grade skipping is used less presently than in the past. An excerpt from an article entitled “What Ever Happened to Grade Skipping?” notes:

A 2008 report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute found that 63 percent of teachers opposed grade skipping, and 46 percent said their schools didn’t allow it. Another 27 percent said they weren’t sure what their schools’ policies were, which means that it probably doesn’t happen too often. We called districts all over the country to ask if they accelerated their gifted students. Few did. What Ever Happened to Grade Skipping?

In my family’s case, our daughter routinely complained about being bored in school, and was subsequently identified as gifted. In spite of numerous attempts to convince the school that she should be accelerated (including my PowerPoint presentation summarizing the research results from the Acceleration Institute), we were curtly rebuffed. The school principal declared “I have a school full of gifted children”, and that our county school district rarely endorsed grade skipping.

Regrettably, we concluded that the school system could not meet our needs. Rather than get involved in a years-long battle with our school system (which would not resolve or help our daughter’s situation), we opted to homeschool our daughter. We are now free to pursue her education at whatever level is appropriate (and given that most gifted children exhibit asynchronous development, this freedom seems to be optimal).

Summary

So, to answer the question, not only does the research suggest that it is better to skip a grade or more (when done appropriately and correctly), but those who do actually continue to excel in their new grade level, and throughout their academic career.