Although pull-out programs are the most common form of trying to meet the educational needs of gifted students, they are not the only method of supplementing the education of academically talented students. Numerous reviews have been published listing different ways these needs can be addressed.
It has now been almost a decade since the report A Nation Deceived was published; the education community has long known that academic acceleration is grounded in strong empirical evidence of positive academic and social development of students.
Types of Acceleration
According to A Nation Deceived, forms of academic acceleration include
- Early admission to kindergarten/elementary/middle/high school/college
- Continuous progress (the teacher controls the pace of progress)
- Self-paced instruction (the student controls the pace of progress)
- Subject matter acceleration (e.g., a fourth grade student taking a sixth grade math class)
- Combined classes (e.g., grouping multiple grade-levels together that leads to academic interaction with older students)Curriculum compacting (less time spent on things like introduction, review, and practice)
- Telescoping curriculum (e.g., completing a year’s math class in a single semester)Mentoring (partnering a student with an expert for more in-depth learning experiences)
- Extracurricular programs (courses and instruction that occur outside the normal school day)
- Correspondence courses (these are now typically online courses)
- Early graduation
- Concurrent/Dual enrollment (enrolling in college courses while still in high school)
- Advanced Placement
- Credit by examination (e.g., skipping algebra by taking the final exam and scoring sufficiently high)
- Acceleration in college (often achieved through dual enrollment, Advanced Placement, or taking additional classes)
Obviously, not all schools offer all types of acceleration options and many may not meet the individual educational needs of each student. For example, grade skipping may partially help an academically talented student but if she learns material very quickly, she may soon begin to outperform even her older classmates, despite having skipped a grade. This does not mean that grade skipping is not effective; it just may not be the appropriate accelerative strategy for that particular student. Similarly, self-paced learning requires the student to know when he should progress and when he needs to spend additional time learning the material at hand. He may have the ability to learn the material while not necessarily having the ability to accurately assess appropriate pacing.
Despite strong empirical support, some school policies still cling to traditional age-grouping. Resistance to acceleration may stem from the fact that it can require substantial extra work for school personnel, many of whom may not have much experience with accelerating students. Because of this, it is very important to work with school personnel appropriately to maximize the match between accelerative strategy and individual student need.