Acceleration in Action!
Acceleration in Action!
Hormel Gifted Education Symposium
June 14-18, 2009
A Nation Deceived:
How Schools Hold Back America’s
The Templeton National Report on Acceleration
Susan G. Assouline
Miraca U. M. Gross
What is Acceleration?
Acceleration is an educational intervention that
moves students through an educational program at
a faster than usual rate or younger than typical
Acceleration means matching the level,
complexity, and pace of the curriculum with the
readiness and motivation of the student.
Acceleration is a strategy that respects individual
differences and acknowledges the fact that some
of these differences merit educational flexibility-it provides cumulative educational advantage.
Who could acceleration help?
The Genius Denied Website reports that the number of
American K-12 students is 47,846,000, and the
percent of gifted is approximately 5% or 2,393,000
1. One room school house•
2. Schools that group students by age rather than
ability and motivation•
We lost an appreciation for individual differences;
students lost the right to direct their own education
based on how fast they were able to learn new and
more complex material.
Why is this issue different?
We have many educational practices in place in
America today that do not have clear research
evidence to support their implementation--they are
implemented because of personal beliefs or political
Acceleration, as an intervention, is different. It is
strongly supported by decades of research, yet the
policy implications of that research are ignored by the
wider educational community.
Research on acceleration is expansive and consistent.
There is no other educational practice that is so well
researched, yet so rarely implemented.
Some Types of Acceleration
Early Admission to Kindergarten and/or First
Advanced Placement Courses
12 Reasons Why Acceleration Isn’t
Accepted in America
Teachers lack familiarity with acceleration.
Confidence about acceleration isn’t running high.
Acceleration runs counter to personal beliefs.
Age trumps everything else.
Safe is better than sorry.
Acceleration is not taught in Colleges of Education.
It’s bad to push kids.
New friends are hard to make.
Individual kids are less important than equal opportunity for
10. It will upset other kids.
11. There will be gaps in the child’s knowledge.
12. Disasters are memorable.
Is Acceleration Tracking?
No. Tracking , as implemented in the 1960s,
referred to a rigid sorting of students by ability.
It was a highly contentious educational practice.
Today’s ability grouping procedures are more
flexible. In contrast to tracking or even ability
grouping, acceleration is a much more
individualized and fluid approach to addressing
the learning needs of students based upon ability,
Tracking focuses on group differences
Acceleration focuses on individual differences
Alternatives to Acceleration are
Some approaches to address the needs of gifted students
Pull-out resource rooms
These approaches are supported as limited options.
None of the alternative options produce the
compelling research evidence earned by
Even ability grouping, which has
considerable research support, is shown to
be effective for high ability students ONLY
when the curriculum is accelerated.
Schools---Grade skipping is economical --maybe the cost of a new
Taxpayers save money--moving a student through school faster costs
Parents-- don’t have to hire private tutors, special camps, and other
enrichment programs-- merely moving them to a more appropriate
classroom can not only be the best solution, but cost-effective as
Parents/Students--cost saving for college tuition through AP courses
and College in the Schools courses.
Parents/Student--avoid the long reaching cost of having a bored and
disengaged child. Often years and a great deal of money are spent
undoing the effects of chronic boredom.
Society--Solid educational decisions are never about money first--a
child’s well-being is always the primary consideration-- and in turn
the overall effect on our society.
What Can Teachers/Administrators Do?
Recognize gifted children by using formal
measures (tests) and informal observations.
Provide new challenges in the classroom as
well as out of the classroom.
Inform parents about acceleration options
throughout the child’s academic career.
Minimize teaching students what they
Make school a positive experience for all
students… including the brightest.
Hope for the Future
The real hope lies with the public. As
parents, teachers and principals become
acquainted with the truth about
acceleration, they can influence elected
officials to advocate for gifted children.
Our country cannot afford to lose its
students to boredom or years of
inappropriate curriculum. We must educate
ourselves, our leaders and change
“Excellence can lose its vibrancy. It
can become complacence. It can
become apathy. What it always
becomes, if it’s ignored, is less than
it could be. When we say no to
acceleration, we are quietly and,
ironically with good intentions,
lowering our national standards.
Excellence is simply disregarded.”
While our nation’s
depends on basic skills
for all Americans, our
depends on how we
respond to excellence.
Education Services and Gifted Education Coordinator
Elementary Gifted Resource Teacher
Big Lake Public Schools
Big Lake, Minnesota