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    Joined: Jan 2019
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    JG00 Offline OP
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    All--

    This question is: what is the appropriate standard for a school to deem the full-grade accelleration attempt of a 5 year old to 1st grade to be a failure? Specifically, is merely meeting grade-expectations on reading-level at the end of 1st grade a sufficient basis to abort the acceleration?

    Here are the details: Our DS5 just met the kindergarten cutoff (he has an August birthday). He had always seemed very bright, and so just before school started my wife and I asked his public school if full-grade acceleration directly into 1st grade was possible. They agreed to test him use the Iowa Acceleration Scale to determine the viability of acceleration. When doing so, they applied the CogAT and the Woodcock Johnson IV tests, but did not apply an IQ test (which I thought odd). I have the sub-scores from each of those if they are relevant to anyone.

    His IAS grand total is 59 out of 80, which the scale considers commensurate with a "good candidate" for full-grade acceleration (and 1 point away from being an "excellent" candidate). The team from the school recommended a half-and-half transition, where he'd attend Kindergarten for half the day, and 1st grade for the other half. The idea was that if all went well, next school year he'd continue on to 2nd grade with his 1st grade cohort. We scheduled a follow-up for January to see how he was doing, and otherwise accepted the transition plan.

    Now that it is January, we met with the school's team and they are saying that as things stand, they do NOT presently recommend him continuing into 2nd grade with his 1st grade cohort. They cite two points: (1) his writing skill is a little behind his other 1st grade peers, and (2) more importantly, they believe him to be reading at an F&P level "G" which is merely par for common-core reading expectations at this point in 1st grade. The school has suggested it expects an accelerated student to be in the top 75% of his accelerated class, and if he does not exceed expectations on this measure by the end of the academic year, they are not in favor of continuing him on the accelerated track.

    My question is this: Is the school's expectations of his 1st grade accelerated performance reasonable? From my (admittedly layperson's) review of the research, differences between an accelerated student and his peers at the 1st grade level are likely to be more pronounced, given normal developmental issues. After all, a 6 year old has 20% more experience and physical development than a 5 year old. Furthermore, because of his birthday, had our son been born just a few weeks earlier, his acceleration to 1st grade would have effectively been a two-grade skip rather than skipping just Kindergarten -- so he's got an even steeper hill to climb.

    I'm troubled that the school, which has very limited experience with acceleration (having done only one skip to 1st grade in the past decade) is applying the same performance standard to a 5 year old accelerating as it would to a 10 year old. And may pull the plug on our son's acceleration after this first year, perhaps prematurely, to his detriment.

    Can anyone point me to research and guidance, be it from Belin-Blank researchers or elsewhere, that might be helpful in determining whether it's appropriate to abort our son's acceleration if he is merely keeping up with the common-core F&P scale throughout 1st grade? If the school's approach is correct, I need to know that too -- but if not, I want to be a good advocate for my son.

    Thanks in advance!


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    My two children were accelerated into K and each started 1st at age 4-5 alongside peers who were 1-3 years older. Their WJ scores were mostly 99+. They both excelled academically for the most part, but they did receive average and even sub-par marks in certain areas that were heavily influenced by their social-emotional and physical immaturity. For example, their underdeveloped fine motor skills made them slower and messier when writing words and sentences or drawing art, and they became fidgety or less attentive towards the end of the school day because they simply got tired (their marks were lower for whichever subject that was taught last). They literally grew out of these challenges over time to meet or exceed grade-level expectations, and keeping them accelerated was the right decision for them.

    I suggest that you converse with the school, more specifically the individual teachers for your son, to understand the reasons behind the lagging writing skills and "par" reading levels. The school needs to be more flexible when accelerating children at such a young age - not in terms of compromising academic standards for the grade but rather in terms of accepting short term weaknesses that are mostly or entirely attributable to age rather than aptitude and effort. The bar that the school could consider is whether your son is consistently progressing at a trajectory to overcome those weaknesses in the future. In my opinion half a school year is probably too short to make that assessment, and the 50/50 time spent in K and 1 in the same year seems questionable (unless that separation is by subject) - your son is exposed to two learning models from two different grades, so he could be unintentionally held back by his K peers and teachers from doing better with his 1st peers and teachers.


    PS I believe that IQ test results are less reliable predictors at a young age, and that may be the reason why your school did not administer it to your son.

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    Welcome!

    Schools, of course, each have their own policies, with a certain amount of latitude depending on local conditions. It is within the range, though, for a school to target placement to the upper end of the receiving grade for a grade accelerated student. Partly, this is to minimize artifactual grade penalties. (E.g., if the student would otherwise have had all As, qualifying them for some kind of award, or access to special programming, but now has Bs and Cs because they've been grade skipped, and no longer meet the transcript-based access criteria.) Grades aside, academic instructional level is not the only skill that becomes more challenging with a grade acceleration. Equally--or even more--important are executive function and study skills. Or, in the case of a five-year-old, presumably in his first formal school experience, "how to do school" skills. Challenging a student in both domains at once may or may not be appropriate to this specific child.

    The flip side of your question is, perhaps his "normal developmental issues" are a good reason for keeping him in a split placement for the first half of next year, and then contemplating full grade acceleration from a 1/2 placement into a 3rd grade placement in fall of 2020. It may be that a discussion about different entry points for acceleration may be in order; this is not the only moment when changes will be possible in his educational path.

    For context: we also entered a child directly into first grade at age 5 (although not quite as young as yours). The school was also hesitant, but did not offer a split placement. We managed to talk them into first rather than K, mainly because our child demonstrated reading skills at a late first grade level prior to first grade entry. We did have some issues during the year with immaturity (behavior and attention), but were able to work through them, with substantial assistance from an extremely experienced and patient teacher, and a very small class size. Plus, I've been on the school side of acceleration discussions, and was able to provide consultative support.

    For your reference, this document from the DG database: https://www.davidsongifted.org/Search-Database/entry/A10123

    Particularly relevant, specifically about kindergarten-age students in the summer prior to accelerating into first grade: "For early advancement to first grade, Proctor, Feldhusen, and Black (1988) recommend what seem to us reasonable minimums: reading comprehension and arithmetic reasoning at the second-semester level of first grade in the local school district. Such achievement assures that the child will not be among those who need a little extra time with these skills, as do many children with age-appropriate or even advanced cognitive development."

    The analogous level for your child would be current performance at the second grade, first semester level in reading. I.e., about half a year ahead of his first grade classmates. From that standpoint, 75th %ile is not an unreasonable standard.


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    From your description I wasn't quite clear what your goals were for your child. E.g. get a higher level math or specific subject or what.

    I have 4 very bright children all at different spots on the gifted chart. We have one who skipped multiple grades and others who are accelerated 1-3 years in a specific subject(s).

    Initially with our oldest we pursued grade skip, which created a lot of push back in multiple school districts. It seems to have worked out for my oldest but there are trade offs. He will be a 14yo going to GA Tech for BME / pre med starting in May and enter with Junior status. Socially he has sacrificed and will sacrifice a lot. To balance things he plays travel sports at age level.

    We have deferred or declined grade skip for 2 of my other ones when we were asked to skip them and instead found schools that were willing to push them ahead where they need it but not by full grade. This keeps them with their peers for part of the day and once they hit high school they can decide to graduate early or take dual enrollment courses at a local college during the last 2 years. These 2 are also potential recruited athletes and will need each and every year till they are 17 to get the size / skill development. If I must skip at this point I would recommend only 1 grade in totality and use course level acceleration and dual enrollment as a supplement. This is the best balance.

    A few things you might consider. Just my 2 cents.

    1. Seeking out a gifted school where they are used to course level and grade acceleration. Note: We moved schools (public/private) every 2-3 years because fighting for your kids is exhausting on administration and eventually you hit walls that can't be moved. We found being new to a school we could get a lot more of what we want. I had 4 kids and was (am) always battling for more customization for my kids.

    2. Supplement outside school. Your child is so young and there is no huge rush. Why not supplement in the subjects you need to outside school. This preserves the momentum while you figure things out. I did this in math with a ton of resources (IXL, Khan Academy, Russian School of Math, tutors, clubs and academic teams, specialty camps and events in your community, buying above grade level text books, etc.). Don't leave all your fate to their brick and mortar school.

    3. If your child skipped already there is no rush to push for a double. My oldest I mentioned didn't skip for the first time till 6th grade. He was ready in K but we could not get it done because of multi-school resistance. I didn't stop supplementing and when we found a school willing to help us it all took off like a cannon and he finished 7th-12th (6 grades) in 4 years + gained 2 years of college credit. I wish we could have taken a skip early elementary and then maybe late elementary. 2 grades at once is very aggressive. My son didn't have much of a high school experience really and some days I regret that.

    4. In the heat of the moment you are clearly passionate for your child's acceleration but perhaps the school has made some good points. If you make a grade skip you want to be a star not average. I tend to agree on their point of being 75%. I have heard many schools position it this way.
    Your child will already have disadvantages in size for sports and socially. You don't want him/her to also be average academically because you pushed a double acceleration.

    5. What if your child went to 2nd grade for a class subject (where the data supports he/she should) but remained with the 1st graders for the subjects he is just ok at relative to 2nd graders. Wouldn't that work out well for your child and you. You can utilize summers and supplemental efforts to bridge the gap in those subjects he/she is weaker in to effectively make the final grade jump in a few years.

    6. Ultimately if you are the parents and if you feel your child must jump than you could manipulate the system. Pull him/her out - homeschool and return your child the following year with a transcript showing completion. They will still probably test and may or may not accept the upper grade if they don't test for it. If you can find a school that is willing to do the grade skip (even if it is not a forever home) you can go for a semester and then transfer back with a live transcript from an accredited school showing 2nd grade and they should have no choice but to accept it.

    7. You may want to ask your child what he/she wants. They are the one living it. Where do they feel more comfortable - with the K or 1st graders and why.

    8. You may also want to observe how your child does in the 1st grade and K classes. Once you act as an observer you may see things differently than you are today.

    Good luck.

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    JG00, I have a child who was admitted directly to 1st grade at age 5 and she has an early fall birthday, so very similar to yours. Our school suggested the skip only because she was reading and doing math at late 2nd grade/ early 3rd grade the summer before she turned 5. So essentially, even with the skip she was top of the class. Im actually very thankful to the school and her teachers for doing that because she continues to be at the top and her confidence has not suffered due to the skip, even if she finds school to be too easy. That said, her writing output (not skill which has always been very mature for her age) did not catch up to grade level till late 3rd grade and mainly because they started using computers to type. Her organizational skill is finally catching up to grade mates in 5th grade. So it is okay to not have all of it at grade level for a skip to succeed as long as you have good and understanding teachers. As you make a decision, know that nothing is set in stone and you can always revisit with school every 6 months to reevaluate as these kiddos do grow exponentially rather than linearly. All the best

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    Great answers on this thread.

    I'll just add a few questions to ponder. No need to post answers, just some things to think about:

    1) How does your son feel about circumstances?
    About the K - 1st grade split this year?
    About his friends in each grade?
    About possibly moving to 2nd grade next year?
    About possibly being full time in 1st grade next year?
    About possibly being in a 1st grade - 2nd grade split next year?
    I ask about this because the IAS weighs the child's preferences, knowing the child's level of motivation/satisfaction may help determine ongoing success.

    2) Do you read with your child at home?
    The IAS considers the level of parental support.

    3) Have you read the acceleration roundup of various experiences and viewpoints, including early college?
    This collection of threads/posts may help parents become familiar with, anticipate, and plan for common issues of acceleration.

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    I have one October born kid, DS12, who was entered early into elementary and for whom we refused a second acceleration, but who is now in a gifted program where half of the class has been accelerated at some point, one August born, DD8, who was entered young for grade in a split level class and for whom we approved a first acceleration, making her almost two years younger than the other now fourth graders , together with a friend who was old for grade, and one October born, DS 6, who will not be accelerated but be entered old for grade, so I have seen a lot of permutations.

    Acceleration is about the least worst option to be found for the often wide discrepancy between intellectual and academic development on the one hand and physical and socio-emotional on the other (called asynchronous development). It is rare to find the perfect sweet spot; usually something has to give.

    In DS12s case, early entry was a no brainer, everyone from preschool teachers to grade school teachers agreed that the fit was there.

    Intellectually, a second acceleration that would have made him up to 2 years younger than the other kids in the 4th grade class he would have been skipped into, would have made sense (DH who is a science teacher said that he could just as well have put him in his college prep classes in high school) but would probably have overwhelmed him physically and socio-emotionally. He is somewhat awkward and anxious in both respects, and did not want to leave the friends hed just made. Nor would he, I think, have been ready academically for this kind of acceleration, because he has (undiagnosed) ADHD and now in middle school, needs all his energy for compensating his executive function deficits (they warned us his grades would start slipping by 7th grade and they have, right on cue).

    DD8, different kid, totally different situation. She was entered young for grade into a split level class and surged right ahead to the top of even the upper grade level kids. So did her then best friend, though a little later and not quite as far. The classs was divided into single grades after that year and the teacher said, again, a no brainer for both girls to move on together with the upper grade (they are still friends but have branched out a bit).

    Even though socially it sounds like a perfect situation, almost the same class, friends, teacher, and the teacher says everyone is friendly and she fits right in, she still looks like a second grader among fourth graders (cute but tiny) and I know that she doesnt feel she fits. She is still at the top of this class of mostly 10 year olds, gets the highest scores in reading and maths competitions and only struggles a bit with legible writing, which is the usual suspect with acceleration. If the academic and intellectual demands werent such a breeze, I would NOT want her in that grade.

    DS6 has major physical disabilities and though we have IQ scores that would normally have made entering him early another no brainer, in his case he needs so much more energy for the rest of the picture, we want the academic (not just the intellectual bit) to be a breeze.

    This is behind the schools reservations: a boy who is two years younger than his classmates will have to work hard to get accepted, probably harder than a girl TBH. It does help with acceptance from teachers, classmates and other parents (who do have a lot of influence over kids in that age group) if it is perfectly clear to everyone, as in DD8s case, there is no way that kid belongs in the grade below.

    There is one boy in DS12s 7th grade who is young for grade and accelerated, the scores looked right and everything, but he is still struggling socially and academically, a child among teenagers who works his butt off for Cs.

    Id try to stall this a bit, TBH.

    Last edited by Tigerle; 02/13/19 03:59 AM.
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    I�m quite familiar with F&P which is a highly regarded and rigorous method of evaluating reading. It doesn�t have anything to do with common core per se so I�m not sure where that comes from. G is indeed considered grade level but it would place you in the lowest 1/3 of readers at our school, in the pullout support group. The high readers for 1st are usually moving into early chapter books like Magic Treehouse at around M. High reader DS entered 4th at Z, high reader DD left 3rd at Z. DS2 is in K and just learned to read this year is at K. We are at a public charter and I would not consider accelerating because of my brothers terrible experience.

    It would seem that the school is open to the acceleration but being reasonably cautious.


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