Grade-Skipping for Highly Gifted Students

by Carol Fertig

The recent Washington Post opinion piece, Class Struggle: Why Grade-Skipping Should Be Back in Fashion, has created quite a stir in gifted education blogs and forums and in reader comments. Some of the points writer Jay Mathews makes are that 

  •  a generation or two ago, grade skipping was more acceptable,
  •  students are far more ready to adjust to age differences when skipping a grade than we think they are,
  •  grade-skipping is an economical and effective way to meet the needs of highly able students, and
  • when a student has strong academic abilities in just one or two subjects, that student should move to a higher grade for those specific subjects and stay with his age-peer group for the rest of the day. 

According to the NAGC Position Statement on Acceleration, there is more research supporting this intervention than any other in the literature on gifted individuals. Several interventions fall under the umbrella of acceleration: not only grade-skipping, but also telescoping, early entrance into kindergarten or college, credit by examination, and acceleration in content areas through such programs as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate at the high school level.

Australian author and scholar Miraca Gross is a strong proponent of radical acceleration for exceptionally and profoundly gifted children. She is well known for her longitudinal study of students with IQs over 160. Many of the titles of her books and articles can be found at the link provided in this paragraph.

If you are a parent or educator who is interested in exploring the possibilities of grade-skipping for a student or students, go to the website for the Davidson Institute for Talent Development and search on the words grade skip. Also, take a look at the Iowa Acceleration Scale, which is a tool to help schools make effective decisions regarding a grade-skip.

This blog post initially appeared on the Gifted Child Info Blog on October 15, 2010.