Grade Skipping Your Gifted Student

One of the toughest decisions a gifted child’s parents may have to make is whether skipping a grade is right for their child, not only now but also in the long run.

Why Consider Whole-Grade Acceleration?

When a gifted child excels in math, art, music, or literature, parents and teachers can work as a team to ensure he or she is challenged in that particular subject area. Common methods include in-class differentiation, single-subject pullout, online distance learning, public school gifted programs, and enrichment opportunities through private classes and summer camps designed for gifted youth.

Occasionally, parents and teachers run across a profoundly gifted and talented student whose achievement is above grade-level across the board. Sometimes this child is twice-exceptional, with deficits in social and emotional skills. Other times the gifted child belies this stereotype and fits in quite well. In either case, academically challenging a profoundly gifted student presents unique problems necessitating flexible education solutions.

Your child may be lucky enough to live in a public school district with a self-contained full-time gifted program, but these are rare. Maybe you can afford private education or a vast array of enrichment activities to supplement deficiencies in traditional academics. Your child may even qualify for a gifted magnet school.

Unfortunately, outside of a few major metropolitan areas, these choices are not available to most of the nation’s gifted students. Gifted specialists will often recommend homeschooling for smart kids with limited gifted education options. If homeschooling is not possible, your child’s best and only option may be grade skipping for a better academic fit.

Is Acceleration Right for Your Child?

In the past, the decision to accelerate a gifted child was a highly subjective process leaving many educators and parents wary of unforeseen negative outcomes. Misconceptions and anecdotal evidence of failed accelerations often dominate the decision-making process. Luckily, schools now have a research-based tool to assess whether a child is a strong, good, or marginal candidate for whole-grade acceleration.

The Iowa Acceleration Scale is a manual and assessment tool combining research and case studies along with a scoring system to objectively determine if your child is likely to have a positive outcome after acceleration. It examines academics, behavior, motivation, social, emotional, and motor skills along with family and school support systems.

What’s Next?

When whole-grade acceleration is necessary for your gifted student, strong advocacy will be essential. Prepare your case that acceleration best meets your child’s academic needs. Know the evidence-based benefits of acceleration, the risks for gifted children who aren’t challenged, and be ready to skillfully refute deeply entrenched misconceptions about social and emotional risks for kids skipping grades.