Category: Gifted Education

Should grade skipping be encouraged if a talented child has the social and psychological maturity?

New meta-analysis: Should I grade-skip my gifted child?

Grade skipping – Wikipedia

Pros and cons of skipping a grade | Parenting

Written Oct 14, 2016

Anecdotes versus research

 

There are several anecdotes in the answers already provided. These are interesting, but do not provide a balanced view of grade skipping.

The research

The referenced article provided in the question summarizes much of the research that has been conducted on grade skipping to date. If you read the reference, the answer to the question is clear – the research overwhelmingly supports grade-skipping … when it is administered appropriately.

IAS3 cover manual front.cdr

The article even points to the gold standard for deciding whether or not to skip a grade – the Iowa Acceleration Schedule (IAS).

Nation Deceived

The seminal report on acceleration, which was published in 2004, is also referenced in the article. A follow-up report, summarizing additional research, was published in 2015. One of the authors of the referenced article was an author an the original reports.

Grade-skippers were found to be significantly more likely to achieve Ph.D.‘s, publish their first paper at an earlier age and achieve highly cited publications by age 50. Grade-skippers compared to non-grade-skippers were 1.6 times as likely to earn a doctorate of any kind, twice as likely to earn a STEM Ph.D., 1.6 times as likely to earn a STEM publication, and 1.6 times as likely to earn a patent.

Who should skip a grade?

The IAS provides a checklist for determining the appropriate candidates for acceleration. The scale includes:

  • school history & summary of professional evaluations
  • assessment of ability (essentially IQ)
  • assessment of aptitude (performance tests like ITBS or ACT)
  • assessment of achievement (e.g. Woodcock-Johnson III)
  • school and academic factors
  • developmental factors
  • interpersonal skills
  • attitude and support (family and school)

In addition to evaluation of the above, there are several criteria that can immediately indicate NOT being accelerated:

  • IQ less than one standard deviation above mean
  • acceleration would result in placing the student into the same grade as a sibling
  • student presently has a sibling in the same grade
  • student indicates he/she does not want to be accelerated.

Conclusion

The decision to accelerate is an important one, and should be evaluated carefully. However, if grade skipping is deemed appropriate, the research is overwhelmingly positive.

I also agree with Amanda Glover – a school for advanced children, or homeschooling may be better choices.

In our situation, the local school system made it perfectly clear that skipping grades was not an option. I think it is appalling that (as mentioned in the article) only one percent of students currently skip grades, while 29% would benefit from acceleration. It’s time for our educational leaders to re-evaluate the policy of having students proceed through the educational system in age lockstep.

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I was “gifted” in elementary school, but my grades are slipping in high school. How can I motivate myself to do my homework?

If this kind of detail helps you formulate an answer, I was in my elementary school’s Gifted and Talented Education program from 3rd to 5th grade and about 7 months ago, I tested an IQ of 143. My grades began to fall in 7th grade and since have worsened. I’m a junior now, and I need to get my act together, but not much has helped my difficulties in school.

Written Oct 2, 2016

At first, I was ready to give you a glib answer like “Smart kids tend to get bored in school, yada … yada … yada.”

 

However, as I thought about this, I realized that you deserve more.

Background

I basically made it through high school without studying, and graduated in the top 3 of my school. College was easy, and fun. I screwed up, because I didn’t challenge myself enough.

My daughter, in 3rd grade, was identified as gifted. She was doing fine in school, but always complained about being bored.

So, what’s the plan?

Why are you in school? Why do you care about grades? In short, what are your goals and ambitions? What are you studying in high school, and why? What are your interests?

These questions are important. If you are in classes because they are part of the curriculum, and you just have to do them to graduate, then you are probably not invested in your school education. In other words, you have no motivation to do well.

However, consider another approach to your education.

Most likely, there is something that fascinates you, and will drive you to explore – possibly even become consumed with it. You may not have found your passion yet, but it is lurking somewhere. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes a state he calls “Flow”, where you become immersed in something, to the point that you lose track of time, and essentially exclude awareness of other things going on around you. You may have experienced something like this playing chess, reading a book, playing video games, or sports, etc. Your first goal is to identify the types of activities that fascinate you.

Next, determine what you need to achieve to accomplish your goals. On the one hand, school (including college) is just a stepping stone, a tool to demonstrate your qualifications to others. In this sense, graduation from high school and college are just keys to open doors.

On the other hand, school can be the portal to an amazing, rich banquet of ideas and stimulation that can captivate and engross you throughout your life.

Let’s face it. We don’t really need to attend school. We don’t really need to learn other languages; parse sentences; solve quadratic equations; remember dates of ancient battles, etc.

Unless …

  • You want to explore the Universe … from huge galaxies all the way down to the building blocks of the atom
  • You dream of designing bridges, or low-cost drinkable water systems
  • You imagine that fractals can contribute to an understanding of synapse functions
  • You believe that a sonar system can be adapted to help blind people “see”

What’s next?

If there are 1,000 students in your school, then only one other student has the potential to compete with you (if you choose to compete). Most likely, you have the greatest potential to succeed (academically) in your grade. Currently, you are choosing to become another gifted “statistic” – just another gifted kid who became bored, and lost the motivation to succeed in school.

Well, screw that!

You should already know that getting into college won’t be that hard. Your grades don’t have to be stellar. So, do your research, and figure out which college; what area of study, etc., and then what are the entrance criteria. Make sure you meet the criteria. Period. Your undergraduate degree will be your first opportunity to really stretch academically. Even then, it is just a springboard to a lifetime of learning.

Next, spend your spare time doing something that you love. Video games are fun. But if you want to make a career out of video games, you’d better be darn good at coding. Even then, you’ll get bored. You’ll need to go to the next level – new algorithms. And for that you will need great math skills. So, whatever you choose, it had better be really captivating.

Putting it all together

If you choose to pursue learning as a lifetime avocation (and I believe you will come to realize that you need to do this to be happy), then realize that you are running a marathon. High school is merely a warm-up event. Just like qualifying at the Olympics, you need to perform well enough to get into the next event. College is like the quarter-finals – now you are competing at a level that can challenge you. Don’t screw up. You have to do well to make it to the next event.

Most events in the Olympics are really close. Occasionally, there is someone who is so far ahead, it seems like they are in a class by themselves. Sure, they are talented. But when you dig deeper, you discover that they worked harder and longer than others. Michael Phelps worked out for 6 hours per day, 6 days a week for years to achieve his goals (Michael Phelps Workout). It takes incredible stamina and determination to become the best in any field.

So … you decide. If getting into an Ivy League is your goal, then gut it out and study hard, do all your homework. If your goal is a lifetime of learning and fascination, then start pursuing your passions. View high school as a qualifying event, but start identifying and participating in the fascinating stuff – enroll in college courses; get online … there are tons of great courses available for free (e.g. Coursera). Figure out what you really like, and then prepare yourself to win the marathon.

Postscript

I didn’t run hard in college, so I missed out on opportunities for advanced schooling. However, I still found lots of fascinating things to do, and have had a great time.

My daughter is now 10. (Her IQ is similar to yours). We have chosen to homeschool her. She now gets to participate in decisions about what to study – she has chosen astronomy and physics (on Coursera), and recently started participating in an online Latin class. I have her study math and writing with me, because I believe these are a necessary part of the “qualifying events” for her later learning.

Over the past year of homeschooling her, I have found my ideas for her education evolving. I no longer believe an “Ivy League” undergraduate education is appropriate. I now believe a small liberal arts college will provide a better learning opportunity (See The Ivy League, Mental Illness, and the Meaning of Life and Colleges That Change Lives). After that, it’s up to her.

The rest of your life is up to you. You need to get through the qualifying events first.

Why homeschooling and not private schools?

Homeschooling has 3 basic principles: Personalise learning, Flexibility of time & Different and personalise methodology of teaching. There are private schools who are doing that? And if yes Why not to choose a private one.

Updated Oct 10, 2016

Have you considered an alternative?”

When our daughter’s principal asked us that question, I was a little taken aback.

Oh. You mean a private school?”

No,” he said. “I probably shouldn’t suggest this to you, as I have spent my career in public schools. If I were you, I would homeschool my child.”

I am not often speechless, but in this case …

Background

On the last day of 3rd grade, our daughter came home with a report card – and a letter stating that she had screened for a gifted program. Over that summer we moved, and enrolled her in a charter school.

Over the following months, we worked diligently with the school to come up with a suitable plan. My research (A Nation Deceived) indicated that skipping a grade was by far the best choice for her, but the school (and school district) would not entertain that idea.

That’s when the principal suggested homeschooling (and not private school, either).

Don’t get me wrong. We did our research. We visited several different private schools. We talked to teachers who recommended IB and AP programs, etc. However, in the end, I concluded that even the private schools could not offer the flexibility that homeschooling offered.

One year later

Our daughter is now (much) happier. She maintains many of her friendships with her regular school friends, and has developed a number of online friendships. She has taken university courses (Coursera) and is currently studying Latin online (via Skype). She continues to excel academically, and is also actively involved in online communities of artists and writers. She has numerous friends who attend private schools. I believe we have made the correct choice.

Response to comment …

Adelina requests more rational reasons for selecting homeschooling over private schools.

First, the caveat. Every child’s situation is different, so you may not find a clear answer for your situation. You will need to consider your child’s personality, learning style, academic capabilities, preference for being in social groups or alone, etc.

That said, try these:

  • Ability to tailor your child’s learning/curriculum. For example, my daughter chose to participate in an Astronomy class on Coursera. It is unlikely that she could choose a similar course in 4th grade (in any school).
  • Ability to focus in great depth on particular subjects (for example, musical instruments). Our daughter spends significant time with digital graphics and animation. She has her own Youtube channel and dozens of followers. She also collaborates on projects with other artists.
  • In my opinion, and based on my visits to private schools in our area, private schools are unable to provide the breadth of courses available to homeschoolers (or even in public school). Public school can reach out to many different resources, and even offer the option to attend classes in different schools if they are not offered in the regular school. Similarly, homeschoolers have enormous resources available – internet; YouTube; websites like Khan Academy, BrainPop, PBS, National Geographic; online classes; MOOCs (like Coursera); local homeschool co-ops; local (and online) tutors, etc. In fact, there are so many resources available, it is hard to select among them.
  • Okay, I’ll probably get some flak for this one – private schools have a tendency to be either preppy, or cliquish, etc. This is one area you will have to evaluate for yourself. You get to determine the homeschool environment.
  • Cost is certainly a factor, but there are also hidden costs. Aside from the constant fundraising, there may be a tendency toward “keeping up with the Joneses”. In other words, fashions, cars, etc. may be emphasized. Again, another area for you to evaluate.
  • In our state, the Department of Education has no jurisdiction over private schools. Therefore, you must thoroughly assess the private schools you are considering attending, including factors such as teacher effectiveness, class conduct, overall success ratings, such as college acceptance rates, etc. You may also consider observing some of the classes in session (if permitted).

The owners of private elementary and secondary schools in Florida are solely responsible for all aspects of their educational programs, including:

  • Certification, qualification, and training of teachers and administrators;

  • Content and comprehensiveness of the curriculum;

  • Duties, qualifications, and salaries of faculty and staff; tuition, class size, fee scales, pupil expenditures, and refund policies;

  • Student assessment, academic credits, grades, and graduation or promotion requirements;

General Requirements

Some conclusions and thoughts

As I stated previously, every student’s situation is different. In our case, I carefully researched many options (including private schools in our area), and my ability to educate our daughter. Our choice was for homeschooling, and I believe it is appropriate for our situation.

If other options were available, our choice may have been different. For example, if The Sudbury Model of Education had been available in our area, I would probably have opted for that.

Homeschooling is not easy. We would have loved to send our daughter to a school that addressed all of our needs and desires, but that was just not available to us. Your situation may be very different. You therefore have to carefully consider, and then select the best option available for your child.

What does it feel like to be an unschooler with extremely high IQ?

Written Sep 16, 2016

I’ll attempt an answer – as a surrogate for my daughter.

 

Background

Our daughter was doing okay in school. She always got the highest grades but, since she is very introverted, was not even put in with the more advanced class in her grade level. When testing revealed that she was probably (statistically) the highest IQ kid in her school, I attempted to get her accelerated. The ensuing discussions were horrendous. She is now 10 years old, and has been homeschooling for one year.

We have frequent discussions about many topics, including her learning. I will take the liberty of writing as I think she would answer.

Academics

  • School used to be very boring. The only fun thing was recess. The teachers always asked us to do stupid stuff. I hated some of my classmates because they were always causing trouble, like hiding in the closet. Sometimes one of my classmates hit people, but the teacher didn’t do anything.
  • I like some of the things I am learning, but a lot of the stuff my dad asks me to do is still boring. The lectures I watched on Coursera had some interesting stuff, but were still boring. When I do my Latin class on Skype, I have fun by texting the correct answers to the other students so that they can answer the teacher’s questions.
  • We are reading a book about Roman History (SPQR). I’m glad my dad highlighted the interesting parts so we don’t have to read the whole thing. The book is pretty boring, but some of the discussions we have about how the same things happen today are interesting.
  • I think talking about math is much more interesting than just listening to a teacher tell us about the rules. Also, dad shows me that if you think about the numbers and ideas in a certain way, it is like using tricks. Dad tells me that the tricks will help out even more when we learn about other math.

Friendship

  • When I was in school, I only had a few friends, and I didn’t get to spend much time with them because they were in other classes. We only got to see each other during recess and lunch.
  • I am still friends with most of my school friends. We text and Skype each other. We also get together for playdates. Some of my old friends are in my Chinese, art, and swimming classes.
  • I now have a number of online friends. Mostly we had mutual friends, and we just came to realize that we have interests in common. I also have a number of friends from sharing our art work together (on YouTube and DeviantArt). We text a lot, and sometimes have Skype chats. I’m not sure about their ages. I know that a lot of them are teenagers, and some of the artists are probably in their twenties and thirties.
  • My Mum and Dad spend about 12–15 hours at our badminton club each week. During that time, I mostly play with the other kids (about 20, ranging in age from baby to 19). We run around and play games. Sometimes I get bored and read, or play games on my phone. Sometimes I show some of the other kids how to do things – one week Connor (19) asked me to show him how to shade drawings on SAI.

Other stuff

  • I like playing piano and violin, but I don’t like my parents always telling me I have to practice every day.
  • I like to read a lot. I have been reading lots of books by Erin Hunter. I like the cats so much, that I draw them, and make videos about them. I just got some books about dragons from the library (Chris D’Lacy). I guess I like reading fiction books about animals.
  • I like playing Minecraft. I have an admin level account, so I can control a lot of stuff. Also, my dad lets me buy stuff with my paypal card, so I just bought a server account. I sometimes play other games, but mostly because my friends play them.
  • My favorite thing to do is drawing (and animation). I spend tons of time drawing, and I often livestream onto YouTube. I like it that I have over 70 subscribers on my YouTube account. Sometimes my subscribers ask me to create a character or drawing for them.
  • I kinda like writing. I am writing two books on Wattpad. They are the same story told from a different character’s perspective. Sometimes it is hard keeping the stories coordinated. I get lazy, and sometimes don’t write anything for a while.

Good Things

  • I get to do a lot of things that I like to do
  • It’s less boring than school
  • I get to choose my own friends
  • I get to stay up later than most of my friends

Bad Things

  • My Mom is a bit of a Dragon Mum. She is always hassling me to do things. She doesn’t know all the stuff that I do, and I don’t think she really cares because she is so busy with her work.
  • My friends are stuck in school all day

In what ways are gifted learners taught to focus?

Written Sep 12, 2016
I don’t believe gifted kids (or any other kids for that matter) are taught to focus.
Focusing on something arises naturally from interest. For example, you may become absorbed in reading a book, or building a model airplane, etc. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi described this phenomenon in his book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.
There is a correlation between the ability to focus and gifted learners. However, as I previously stated, I believe the focus is a result of interest in a topic, rather than being learned.

Should gifted students be taught separately?

Written Sep 7, 2016

While all children are indeed gifts, and are gifted in their own way, not all children are academically gifted. Usually, schools provide specific criteria for admission to a gifted program – often, an IQ test is utilized as the initial screening. Additionally, input may be sought from other sources, such as parents, teachers, counselors, etc. The specific criterion for entry is often to be within the top 2% of the population. Note that schools are generally attempting to measure and identify those who are academically gifted, and are therefore seeking correlation with ability to succeed academically (as opposed to other gifts, such as athletic ability, artistic ability, etc.). In the US, states and school districts generally determine the criteria for gifted programs.

 

There has been extensive research conducted on types of intervention for gifted students, and their effects. The Acceleration Institute identifies 20 types of acceleration for bright students, which fall into 2 categories:

  • grade-based acceleration (grade skipping), which shortens the number of years of K-12 education
  • subject-based acceleration, which allows for advanced content earlier than usual.

The Acceleration Institute has gathered a substantial body of research in the 2004 report, A Nation Deceived, and its follow-on report, A Nation Empowered.

The research convincingly demonstrates that academic acceleration produces notable academic gains for bright students. The research also indicated small to moderate social-emotional gains.

Unfortunately, many schools and school districts do not embrace the concepts of acceleration for gifted students or, when they do, they are implemented in a piecemeal fashion. 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?

So, even though the costs of implementing a rigorous acceleration program in schools is low (and relatively easy), many gifted students languish in the boredom and ennui of sitting through classes that neither interest nor challenge them. This is a great loss, both on an individual and collective basis.

What is it like to raise an extremely gifted or brilliant child?

I’m talking about elite intelligence here. When did you first know they were gifted? What did you do to feed their curiosity and intelligence?

Written Sep 6, 2016

When did we first know?

Officially, we first knew when our daughter brought home a letter from the school on the last day of 3rd grade, informing us that she had passed the initial screening for the gifted program.

Since then, she has had two intelligence tests administered, which confirmed the initial findings. We also had her participate in ACT Explore testing – an above grade-level test which provides a measure of actual grade level performance.

Prior indications:

  • Many friends and acquaintances commented on her being a “model” child (quiet, well-behaved, etc.)
  • Very aware of her environment – she watches before doing. For example, she watched her friends riding bikes, then essentially just got on and started riding. Same thing with roller-blading.
  • Asking very interesting questions. When she was 6, we were passing a lake – “How do boats float? At age 8, she asked her teacher how you split an atom.

Feeding intelligence and curiosity

We throw mud on the wall and see what sticks!

  • We have a room filled with stuff – microscope; Littlebits; Snap circuits; Arduino; telescope, Lego Mindstorm, etc. Most of it is currently unused. She tends to get interested in something, and then drops it after a while.
  • She has access to the internet, and is constantly exploring – Brainpop; vSauce; Youtube, Skype, etc.
  • We routinely go to the library, and she can download books from our library. She probably reads 1–2 books per week.
  • At age 9, she got interested in Physics and Astronomy. She monitored a Newtonian Physics course on Coursera (got about halfway through before she lost interest), and completed a Coursera course on Astronomy (including quizzes and essays).
  • We recently watched a BBC series on Youtube about ancient Rome, and have been following up with discussions about Mary Beard’s book “SPQR”.
  • She takes lessons in piano, violin, art, Mandarin, and badminton. She is bilingual in Mandarin (her mother is Chinese), so is learning how to also read and write.
  • We have been reviewing “Models for Writers”, to encourage ideas for writing.

Self Motivation

This topic is very interesting, and may provide some insight into her personality (and possibly that of other gifted kids).

She is NOT self-motivated for externally provided tasks. When I ask her to complete an assignment, I always have to give her a deadline, and she always waits until the last possible second to complete the assignment. I believe she sees this as a kind of game/challenge.

On the other hand, when she is internally motivated, she can easily jump down the rabbit hole. She became immersed in Minecraft for about 3 months. After she mastered it (to the point of teaching tricks to other, older kids), she lost interest. She subsequently became interested in digital graphics and animation. She self-taught, primarily using Youtube videos from other artists. She now has a Youtube channel with several dozen subscribers, and will routinely be online with several other artists collaborating on projects.

I suggested she write something about a topic that interested her. She started writing chapters of a book that she has been posting online.

Parent’s Perspective

Frustration. If she doesn’t want to do something, she uses passive aggression. She is extremely manipulative, and is so effective that you are hardly aware that she is doing it.

Joy. Certainly, she is very capable, and can perform effectively whenever she chooses.

Challenge. Both ways. She challenges our patience, but we have to challenge her intellectually.

Knowledge. Lots of available information out there from others who have experienced raising a gifted child. That helps.