Advocating for Grade Acceleration

Help Your Gifted & Talented Child Request a Grade Skip

Your gifted child is not challenged in any subject and enrichment and differentiation are not enough. If you’re considering whole-grade acceleration, do your legwork.

Acceleration allows a student to be challenged in a standard classroom without extraordinary efforts for differentiation. Teachers usually do not have the time, resources, or system support to truly individualize gifted education in a traditional classroom setting. The school system may not have funding for gifted programs, or a once-a-week pullout program may prove inadequate. Parents may not have the financial resources for extracurricular enrichment. Acceleration is a time and cost-effective way for any school to meet the needs of a gifted child.

Skipping a grade is not the best option for every gifted child, but for profoundly gifted students performing above grade level in all academic subjects, a grade skip may be in order. The gifted student benefits from appropriate challenges and often fits in better with intellectual peers. Contrary to common misconceptions, gifted research indicates that carefully screened candidates experience no long-term negative social or emotional consequences from acceleration and outperform non-accelerated gifted peers.

If the school has never accelerated a gifted student before or previously experienced a less than optimal outcome, administrators will have a difficult time judging your child’s uniquely individual needs and circumstances. Many educators are not familiar with the strength and depth of gifted research supporting acceleration and hold strong convictions against grade skipping. As a parent of a gifted child, you will need to combine force and tact in educating teachers and administrators.

Steps in Requesting Whole-Grade Acceleration for Your Gifted Child

  • Compile a portfolio of research on acceleration benefits.
  • Have your child take an out-of-level achievement test.
  • Consider evaluation by a psychologist who specialized in gifted education.
  • Gather recommendations from teachers and guidance counselors.
  • Include evidence of non-academic opportunities to interact with age peers.
  • Write a cover letter accepting responsibility for any unforeseen outcomes.
  • Request evaluation for acceleration using the Iowa Acceleration Scale.

Hoagie’s, a web resource for parents of gifted kids, recommends creating a portfolio of research and supporting evidence for acceleration with a cover letter requesting acceleration and accepting full responsibility for the long-term outcome. Include IQ, performance, and achievement assessment results. A score of 50th-%ile or higher on an out-of-level achievement test, designed for students in a higher grade than current placement, is a critical criterion for acceleration.

Present the portfolio to your child’s principal or guidance counselor and request prompt consideration using Iowa Acceleration Scale procedures. Provide support for any adjustment issues that arise if your child receives the grade skip. If your child is denied after careful assessment, realize it might not be the best choice at this time and continue to work with teachers to provide appropriate challenges.