By Stephanie McCauley
A recent study from Johns Hopkins indicates that many more students are performing above grade level than previously thought. However, the percentage of students who skip grades is only about 1%. If so many students (gifted students in particular) are overperforming in their grade levels, then why has grade skipping remained so rare?
According to an article from MindShift, the practice of grade skipping used to be much more common. But today, schools and teachers tend to encourage students to remain in their grades; many schools don’t have the programs necessary to support accelerated students in a fair way. Many parents resist grade skipping as well, worried that accelerating their child might restrict growth or social development. Others would prefer their child remain at the top of the class rather than risk falling behind.
However, research seems to contradict such fears. Gifted students who accelerate often perform better than their peers who remain in their grade-level class. Many children who skip grades in their elementary years notice no negative side effects later on and may even gain confidence from the challenge. For some children, age is not the most reliable indicator of academic or social ability.
Still, it’s important to consider that skipping a grade might not work for every gifted child. Adjusting to a new environment with older children can be trying for some students. Thankfully, there are resources to help schools and parents learn more about working with acceleration. One important resources is the Iowa Acceleration Scale, which helps schools make informed decisions about who and how to grade skip.
In the end, a parent’s choice may depend on weighing the pros and cons. Is the child adequately challenged at grade level? Or is she showing signs of restlessness or boredom? Does she want to participate in more challenging work? The answers may change depending on the child and the resources available at school.