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Grade Acceleration

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Should high-achieving students be accelerated (skip grades)?

  • I have no experience with grade acceleration, but am in favor

    Votes: 1 33.3%
  • I have had a positive experience (personally, or my child) with grade acceleration

    Votes: 2 66.7%
  • I have no experience with grade acceleration, but am against it

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I have had a negative experience (personally, or my child) with grade acceleration

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    3
Mar 14, 2020
2,599
1,713
113
I have been digesting a lot of information on student achievement, giftedness, and grade acceleration/early entry into school. It's all a bit overwhelming, as I am quite certain that if I make even the slightest misjudgment, I will undoubtedly ruin any hope for my daughter leading a successful and happy life.. 😓

My daughter is just turning 5 years old, and will be entering kindergarten in the fall. She has only attended 1 year of "pre-school" (it was something similar to a Montessori Pre-K). And the last 1+ year, we have been teaching her at home quite a bit. Her reading and math are especially advanced. She is reading chapter books (50-100+) pages, and doing 1st and 2nd grade math. Her spelling and writing (or other fine motor skills like drawing) are not quite as good. But, still quite advanced for a kindergarten, and I am sure she would fit in just fine in 1st grade.

I know.. what am I worried about, it's just kindergarten. However, they say that grade acceleration is much easier on children when they are younger as there is already a wide range in academic and social skills. As students get older, the divides between grade levels are more defined.

At first, I was mostly against the idea of skipping her ahead as I was more concerned with what her experience in middle and high school would be like. She will be ~18 months younger than all her classmates when they begin dating, and driving cars etc. However, I have recently taken a job at an elementary school, and I can see the level of the curriculum (and expectations) as well as the social/developmental skills of students in the various grades. I am now hoping that she will be able to test directly into 1st grade and skip kindergarten entirely.

In our school district, this is NOT usually allowed, and most of the staff/teachers all say that students should just be grouped by age. How does this compare to your state/country? Because it seemed like it was a much more common thing when I was in school (20+ years ago).

A recent Johns Hopkins University study reported that between 15 and 45 percent of students perform above grade level. Yet according to a study published in the Journal of Advanced Academics, only about 1 percent of students skip a grade.
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Most of the articles I've read and videos I've seen don't really dispute that there is a significant academic benefit to grade acceleration. It challenges high-achieving students more, and places them with peers that are more at their level. The debate seems to revolve around the supposed negative social impacts of grade acceleration. I've seen a variety studies/articles that will claim no/negligible social impact, and other that claim slightly harmful/negative social-emotional effects.

https://www.nagc.org/resources-publications/gifted-education-practices/acceleration

Especially if you've had any recent experience (for your children?) with grade acceleration, I would really appreciate hearing about it or any advice you can give. Looking back, do you think it was the right choice?

Also, what do I need to know/prepare to get this done? I know each school district/state will have different regulations. But, do I need to get my daughter IQ tested or anything in advance? I've read that we should start documenting (video/saving worksheets) her academic level, so that we have "proof" of her level.

In my district, they will first place her in kindergarten for a few weeks for the teacher to evaluate her, and then she will be recommended for "testing". I don't know what that would involve? Purely academics? Psychological/social-development? We are already trying to shore up any weaker areas she may have, like: shapes, telling time, counting money. She can do arithmetic like 1.25 - .99, but I would hate to have it counted against her because she doesn't know what a dime means..

Cheers,
D2DC
 
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Glurin

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Jan 6, 2021
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Not sure if it will be of any use to you, but maybe there's still some insight to be had. I have no recent experience with grade acceleration. I left the school system a long time ago and don't have any kids of my own. And unfortunately, with a few exceptions, most of my experience with grade acceleration is more in the reverse direction. Not me personally, but with other students who really, really should have been held back or at the very least placed in remedial courses, but were shuffled right on through to the next grade to keep those graduation rates up. (Hooray for public education. 🙄 )

Anyway, when it comes to those few students I had interactions with that were advanced a grade or two, I can tell you this much. One was a total asshole. Smug, arrogant, always had this "I'm just better than you" attitude whenever anyone talked to him from Elementary all the way to High School graduation. Met his parents once and they were pretty much the same way, so that probably had more to do with it.

Another was a nice enough guy. Smart, funny, had some obvious developmental quirks, but got along well enough with most people. Kinda reminds me a little of Jimmy from South Park now that I think about it, but without the stutter and crutches.

The last I didn't meet until high school. Reason being he was home schooled and his parents wanted him to attend the last couple of years of high school for the social interaction. I know, not exactly the same as having your kid start out in first grade as opposed to kindergarten, but still, he was a year younger than the average. Great guy, good personality, and most of the stuff they were teaching in class was stuff he had learned long before then. A little on the shy side, but most people liked him from what I saw.
 
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Interesting @Glurin. I had never thought of the smugness/elitest factor. That one article mentioned that it may be beneficial to a child's self confidence, but never in a negative way.

The DC area has entire areas/school districts afflicted with this problem. Unfortunately, they also tend to have the best schools.. So, a bit of a double edged sword there.

I just wish this wasn't such an uncommon practice. If 1/4 or 1/3 of students were accelerated, you wouldn't be viewed as "that kid", for good or for bad.
 

Vang

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What is the purpose of grade acceleration?

I work in a mental health agency for adolescent and can not tell you how many teenagers I have that despise their parents because they make them take AP classes in 8th grade. The amount of suicidal tendencies, depression, etc are factors you should consider before pushing a child.

How do you define success as a parent? This may seem like a dumb question, but knowing your own goals as a parent and how you deem it successful also will define your relationships with not only your children, but your SO.
 
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What is the purpose of grade acceleration?
My main concern at this point is to keep her challenged/interested in learning. I feel that if she's placed in kindergarten, she will just be taught things that she learned 2+ years ago. She will get bored and begin to despise going to school.

Growing up, I never really felt challenged in school, and basically breezed my way through high school without ever having to try very hard. Once I entered college/real world, I wasn't really prepared with the study habits or drive to "succeed", and now feel like I never really lived up to my potential.

I agree about the AP classes though. Hopefully by that age she will be mature enough to know what she can/cannot handle and make the decision for herself. At the very least, that is a life altering decision that I don't have to worry about for the time being..
How do you define success as a parent?
Obviously my main goal is for her to lead a happy/fulfilling life. That being said, my wife's family comes from an Asian background, and they define success VERY differently than here in the West. You want to talk about pushing/putting pressure on your kids.. 😓

I am not that extreme. But, I also don't want her to just "coast" through life like I feel like I have done. 🤷‍♂️
 
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Vang

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My main concern at this point is to keep her challenged/interested in learning. I feel that if she's placed in kindergarten, she will just be taught things that she learned 2+ years ago. She will get bored and begin to despise going to school.

Growing up, I never really felt challenged in school, and basically breezed my way through high school without ever having to try very hard. Once I entered college/real world, I wasn't really prepared with the study habits or drive to "succeed", and now feel like I never really lived up to my potential.

I agree about the AP classes though. Hopefully by that age she will be mature enough to know what she can/cannot handle and make the decision for herself. At the very least, that is a life altering decision that I don't have to worry about for the time being..

Obviously my main goal is for her to lead a happy/fulfilling life. That being said, my wife's family comes from an Asian background, and they define success VERY differently than here in the West. You want to talk about pushing/putting pressure on your kids.. 😓

I am not that extreme. But, I also don't want her to just "coast" through life like I feel like I have done. 🤷‍♂️
Thanks for the background, here are my other tidbits based on what you gave me.

I would talk to your wife on the differences in your cultural backgrounds and make sure you and her are on the same page in bringing her up and expectations for her schooling. I find that 1 in 5 kids or so know what they want and can handle. The other 80% the parents put the expectations on the child. **Note I'm strictly talking about teenagers I've dealt with who are in the upper tier of their class rank, not Bob the Slob kid who is lucky to get a C.

Does your school do gifted testing? A lot do, but the requirement is usually 2-4th grade depending on the district. I know that can challenge them greatly.

Did you child do preschool, if so how was that? Some kids are super gifted educationally but just want to have fun and make friends and really focus . You and I both know most professionals requires a level of social competency that sometimes children who excel do not have. In my experience a lot of kids skip either 2nd or 3rd grade as that is when social skills are good and that the competency is easier to tell (and they are more likely to be bored)

Last piece of advice, just like sports a lot of kids really start focusing in (7-8th grade) if they are interested in an educational route. Sometimes kids get burnt out early because it is forced.
 
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Glurin

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Growing up, I never really felt challenged in school, and basically breezed my way through high school without ever having to try very hard. Once I entered college/real world, I wasn't really prepared with the study habits or drive to "succeed", and now feel like I never really lived up to my potential.
My experience was much the same. In fact there was one class that I quite literally slept through and still easily passed. Got to college and felt like there was at least a two year gap between what I did learn before college and what I should have learned before college. It was not a pleasant experience to be confronted with.

Look, social skills are an important aspect of life. That's just a given. But so is academic achievement, and IMO, at least when it comes to public schools, social interaction is used far too often as an excuse to get lazy on the academic aspects. And just to be clear, I say that as a statement more on the quality of the school system than on the willingness of kids to learn. Kids have all day to socialize. They've only got a few hours with teachers.
 
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Thanks for the advice guys. We do have a gifted program here, but as you said, they test at the end of 3rd grade.

I never considered waiting and trying to skip 1st or 2nd grade. It would give her a chance to work on her social skills first, and then move up.

She only had the one year of pre-k. And, we have been limiting her to neighbors/friends because of covid. So, she doesn't have a lot of experience navigating a classroom full of children.

We are putting her into a summer school/camp to get her used to interacting with larger groups of kids. And, the flip side of doing kindergarten, and then acceleration, would be that she makes a group of friends her first year, and then has to leave them all behind..

We are gonna have to wait till the year starts, and see how she is fitting in before doing anything certain. But, its good to hear some other perspectives on the issue.
 

jmervyn

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Mar 24, 2020
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I have no direct experience with grade acceleration, but am in favor of it with certain qualifications.
What is the purpose of grade acceleration?
If your child is held behind by peers or the education system itself.

Both my son & I "coasted" in under-demanding school systems early on, which damaged our later success. I went to a number of elitist schools and was always one of the untouchables, but then in hindsight I'm somewhat glad I didn't have tickets to the AC/DC concert and the accompanying drug habit.

I was "socially mature" - vastly so - to my peers, up through high school. I didn't have my peers' social standing (it took a second date with the daughter of Pepsi International to realize that there was no way either of us would really like each other, even though my maturity attracted her) because I didn't get much financial assistance from either parent. One could say growing up hard made me grow up fast. I'm comfortable knowing that I succeeded on my own rather than through parental influence & wealth.

My son was the opposite in grade school. I suspect that if he had skipped a grade, he might have been even unhappier, but that's indeterminable.
I work in a mental health agency for adolescent and can not tell you how many teenagers I have that despise their parents because they make them take AP classes in 8th grade. The amount of suicidal tendencies, depression, etc are factors you should consider before pushing a child.
I don't doubt it. A friend from my elitist high school committed suicide his second year in university, and the stories of "Tiger Moms" ignore the suicide rate of their children.

That said, my son wanted to take the AP courses - too many of them - but he's completing his Associates' Degree after a single year of collegiate study.
How do you define success as a parent? This may seem like a dumb question, but knowing your own goals as a parent and how you deem it successful also will define your relationships with not only your children, but your SO.
I want my son to be happy, but at the same time not a parasite like a vast number of his peers - not leaving their parents' home until their mid-30's and being more interested in drugs than starting a family. He's certainly not as loving or close to me as I'd hoped but that's definitely my fault for being more intolerant and demanding than his (rich) peers' parents. It's hard for a child who essentially is poor being told to work or perform household chores to look at friends whose parents own fire engines & boats as adult toys and have nannies or groundskeepers.

Happiness is not defined - and certainly not guaranteed - by material possessions, or even by fame or friendships. I'm thankful that he's started to realize this, but at the same time he's desperate for social acceptance to the point that I have to remind myself not to fear (the old "if your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?")

To wit,
“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”
- Blaise Pascal, Pensées VII(425)[/b]
 
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Vang

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@jmervyn Yep there is a big difference in parental relationships for the kids I see that want the AP classes and the parents that force them. Some of the tendencies are the same, but the parental/child relationships are usually a lot healthier when children and parents are working together to fit the child's desires and not the parent forcing it down their throat.

With that said I do think without a doubt that some parental force is necessary, to prevent like you stated not having your children be parasites. My daughter is going to be 6'2" to 6'3" (188cm for my European friends). I have let her know she will be playing basketball regardless of her lack of interest as it can open doors for her that she at (11) won't understand until she is an adult.

It is a fine line and I can tell you I never tell a parent how to parent. I work with the child to work within the parental system until the parent is ready to adjust, because it is easier to get a child to play the game then tell a parent they suck at X (and honestly, who am I even with training to tell a parent how to parent) *Yes, my agency offers parenting technique training, but I don't t run or do anything but offer that program.

At the end of the day all we as parents can do is do the best we can with what we are given and ask for advice and insight when needed. Then apply it the best we can to to give our child(ren) the best chance to succeed that we can. Then they have to walk their own path and hopefully we feel that we did a damn good job once they walk their path.
 
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jmervyn

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@jmervynIt is a fine line and I can tell you I never tell a parent how to parent.
Unfortunately society has decided that it needs to usurp that role... as if the collection of lunatics & deviants from broken homes (myself technically included) have any concept whatsoever of what good parenting requires.

Incidentally, I tried to get my son involved in martial arts as a pathway to wrestling for the same reasons as you with basketball - I know he was a lot better at it than he thought he was - but he never liked the "jock" culture that came with it. He broke his finger during freshman season & was happy to never have to deal with it again.

Still, 18 credits & a full-time job (Wuhan Flu notwithstanding) is burning me out nearly as much as it is him.
 
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