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    http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/against-accelerating-the-gifted-child/
    Against Accelerating the Gifted Child
    By JESSICA LAHEY
    New York Times
    October 14, 2012

    ...

    According to A Nation Deceived, a 2004 report by the Institute for Research and Policy on Acceleration, most schools cannot handle the needs of gifted children, and acceleration is a good solution for students in need of more intellectual stimulation. The report points to hundreds of studies that have been conducted on academic acceleration, and most show no negative emotional outcomes for accelerated students. But the majority of these studies are based on subjective reporting by the students themselves, a notoriously inaccurate and blunt research tool.

    My concerns about grade accelerations are best articulated by the recommendations for best practices published in Gifted Child Quarterly. Toward the end of the report, the author, Maureen Neihart, warns that acceleration “may be harmful to unselected students who are arbitrarily accelerated on the basis of I.Q., achievement, or social maturity,”

    In other words, the decision to skip students ahead a grade or two should not be made on the basis of intellect alone. Steve Perkins, a high school teacher in Indianapolis, agreed by e-mail: “Yes, a fifth grader may be able to do seventh-grade math. Skipping the child, however, ignores the physical factors of development. When we assume that the pure cognitive is the be-all, end-all, we have grossly misunderstood the whole.”

    ***********************************************

    I don't agree with the article, but there are some good comments at the NYT site rebutting it. The educational system often acts like age is the "be-all, end-all", and that is currently a bigger problem than overemphasis of the "pure cognitive" in grade and class placement.


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    It's all anecdotal, one person's perspective without any substantive evidence presented. The comments are likewise. I don't think it's worth much.

    Of course there are tradeoffs with acceleration, as there are with any major decision about educational placement.

    DeeDee

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    Originally Posted by Bostonian
    My concerns about grade accelerations are best articulated by the recommendations for best practices published in Gifted Child Quarterly. Toward the end of the report, the author, Maureen Neihart, warns that acceleration “may be harmful to unselected students who are arbitrarily accelerated on the basis of I.Q., achievement, or social maturity,”
    I think that this is the key quote here and I'd honestly agree. I've seen unsuccessful accelerations. They usually involved kids who were selected on the basis of one of these factors mentioned or maybe two with the third being a substantial weakness.

    For instance, a kid with two of the above listed traits: high IQ kid & high achievement in most subjects, but who has Asperger's & would, thus, likely be fairly weak in the area of social maturity. I've seen kids like this skipped and they suffered terribly socially.

    Another instance: a kid with one of the above mentioned strengths: high achievement, but more average IQ and social maturity. I've seen kids like this who are very high performers who are skipped or subject accelerated based on their high performance and who later falter because they are not intellectually able enough to keep up with the higher level work as they get into harder levels of the work.

    Although I'm not a complete fan of the Iowa Acceleration Scale only by virtue of the fact that it seems fairly subject to subjective opinions in many areas, it does at least look at all of the areas that should be considered when looking at skipping a kid: ability, achievement, and social. My one kiddo who is grade accelerated was an excellent candidate for the skip using the IAS and it has been successful. She's a huge advocate of being placed ahead and feels like the fit, while still imperfect, is much better than it would have been without the skip (socially as well).

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    I love the "logic" of the article. According to the author, the findings of a "A Nation Deceived" are suspect even though they are based on "hundreds of studies that have been conducted on academic acceleration, and most show no negative emotional outcomes for accelerated students" because they are "based on subjective reporting by the students themselves, a notoriously inaccurate and blunt research tool."

    The author refutes decades of research with the personal observations of a columnist, a fifth grade teacher and one woman who was unhappy about her grade skip as child. Hundreds of subjective studies outweighed by three individual subjective opinions. Hmmm.

    I am so glad that this column did not appear last week when administrators at DD's school were weighing her skip. She is a great candidate under the IAS and really wants the skip but one of the administrators could have written this same article. "What about social problems? What about middle school?" He was adamant that no child should ever be skipped because of these factors. Ultimately he was overruled but it is so frustrating to try to fight such continually perpetuated bias, conventional wisdom and shibboleths.

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    It's tough.

    As a child I could not connect socially because I could not connect cognitively. I should have been grade skipped.

    Frankly, I think cognition comes first because it affects socialization. I was disconnected cognitively and because of that didn't interact as much as they felt I should have, and the school staff took that as social immaturity and denied me any skips.

    I don't think you can "paint all skips with the same brush" so to speak. I get tired of hearing about the social aspect, because in my case it was the LACK of a skip that caused my social disconnect. I know I'm not alone in this.

    I think each situation, child Vs skip scenario, should be individually assessed.

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    Originally Posted by fwtxmom
    ... one of the administrators could have written this same article. "What about social problems? What about middle school?" He was adamant that no child should ever be skipped because of these factors. Ultimately he was overruled but it is so frustrating to try to fight such continually perpetuated bias, conventional wisdom and shibboleths.

    Thumbs up to this post (and the others here as well). I was dismayed (but not surprised) by the shallow thinking displayed in the Motherlode article.

    My eldest skipped two grades. Academically, it was the right thing to do. Yes, there was some disconnect with other kids in his class last year due to changes in adolescence. But IMO, this is a problem to be addressed, not a reason to hold a child back. And honestly, the larger problem was the cognitive disconnect. Due in part to that problem, he learned next to nothing last year. This, not the adolescence thing, is why we're homeschooling this year. And he's a lot happier and sees his friends.

    Originally Posted by Cricket2
    For instance, a kid with two of the above listed traits: high IQ kid & high achievement in most subjects, but who has Asperger's & would, thus, likely be fairly weak in the area of social maturity. I've seen kids like this skipped and they suffered terribly socially.

    Would the kid have still suffered socially without the skip?

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    Originally Posted by Val
    Originally Posted by Cricket2
    For instance, a kid with two of the above listed traits: high IQ kid & high achievement in most subjects, but who has Asperger's & would, thus, likely be fairly weak in the area of social maturity. I've seen kids like this skipped and they suffered terribly socially.

    Would the kid have still suffered socially without the skip?
    This isn't my kid, so hard to say, but you're probably correct that this is a kid who is going to have a hard time socially anyway. I bring it up more as a point that, without the accompanying weakness in the social realm, I've seen absolutely no negative social impact to being much younger. My skipped kid is a young 14 y/o 10th grader. Middle school went unbelievably well socially. She was truly happy and had a ton of friends so we certainly didn't see any of the horrible social disaster that the blogger seemed to imply would occur in middle school and beyond.

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    The aim can't be for one's gifted child to fit in like she's average, in whatever grade she finds herself; the more unusual and healthily confident the child, the more she'll tend to stick out. Thinking about the whole HG+ child must give higher priority than normal to intellectual needs, which are greater than normal and more likely to do harm if unmet. I also agree that one has to think of the difference in harm, though that might be difficult.


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    Originally Posted by Iucounu
    I also agree that one has to think of the difference in harm, though that might be difficult.
    That's a good way to look at it. For my dd14, the academic and emotional harm and, honestly, the harm in lack of connection with her grade peers, would likely be greater were she an 8th or 9th grader this year (she would be an older 8th grader or a very young 9th grader - bd just makes the cut for that grade) than whatever harm comes from her current placement.

    In terms of my hypothetically socially challenged/2e kid above who is skipped, I can't speak to where the harm would be greater b/c it isn't one we've personally encountered. We have opted not to skip our 2e kid, although she was started a bit early, but it is due to issues other than social. The interesting thing that we're finding now, though, is that opposite to kids who are accelerated early on due to high achievement and who falter later due to the ability not being quite there, her achievement is getting better and better as she gets into higher level work. We're finally seeing some pretty consistent performance (fingers crossed!).

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    Having skipped myself, I am a huge advocate. But I also had a small peer group sliding through the elementary grades.

    But I think that today, the discussion is moot. DD has a fall birthday and is young for her grade. But since so many kids are redshirting (not in NYC but elsewhere) she is younger by months of kids who are a grade lower when we are at the beach in NJ for the summer. Red shirting is big in NJ.

    In comparison, she is grade skipped in NJ. The argument really blurs. But I do think it is nice to be in a gifted school where there is a peer group as puberty hits and the kid is younger.

    Digressing, there is a kid in DD's class (a gifted class but the bar is 90% on the OLSAT if you are a sibling and siblings get first shot). Really nice kid and she is trying so hard to hang with DD. I talked to DD about it and finally she says, "you know how I am in a gifted class and kids are suppose to be smart? Well, I am not sure how she got in the gifted class." I wanted to laugh but controlled.

    Just because you skip doesn't mean you will get with peers. Having a small group when I skipped really helped and I noticed I hung with those types all through high school.

    I remember being in the library in high school and there was this girl Mary, (stereotypical thin, with big boobs and small brain). She was struggling with some simple math and I just happened to be near and said hi. She asked me for some help and I remember sitting and trying to teach her some simple math. She was in my grade, 2 years older but not my peer...She was a nice girl but we had nothing in common except she had a gorgeous brother who played hockey that I wanted to know better.

    Ren

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