Friday, July 31, 2015

Acceleration...

This afternoon, I followed my husband down the road toward our home.  He crept along at 23 miles an hour in a 40 MPH zone, and I found myself repeatedly hitting my brakes to avoid a collision.  The more I tapped my brakes to slow my vehicle, the more slowly he seemed to be driving.  

No, Bruce isn't a timid driver.  It was the vehicle in front of him that was causing both of us frustration at the pace of all three vehicles.  I can only assume that the pace car leading our parade was driven by either a brand new student driver, or someone elderly and frightened.  Suffice it to say, I would imagine that the three vehicles ALL contained drivers experiencing some level of frustration.

Put the Pedal to the Metal.

Feelings similar to mine on the  road this afternoon are experienced every single day by high ability and gifted students.  It's been happening for years, but really reached an overwhelming plateau since NCLB.  Administrators are unwilling to consider acceleration of subjects or grades, fearing that the gifted kids will be (gasp!) LEFT BEHIND.   (Guess what, folks?  They already ARE!)

There's a great article entitled "Why are American schools slowing down so many bright students?"   The article highlights the most comprehensive research done on the topic of acceleration in the last 10 years, and it's important to note that  acceleration is not just skipping a grade (or two...).  The entire report, A NATION EMPOWERED, can be downloaded for free here.
 
 In my sixteen years as a TOG, I've been involved in about a dozen full-grade accelerations, and literally hundreds of compacting or challenging coursework, and independent studies with students from 1st - 12th grade.   The IOWA Acceleration Scale is a particularly useful took for determining potential success of an acceleration, and consideration should also be given to students with high ability athletic skill.  (In Pennsylvania, PIAA eligibility is determined by GRADE, not by age, which could cause a student a year on the bench, come sophomore year in high school, too "old" for the junior high team and not mature enough physically for the high school team.)

With the right level of support, and consideration for the whole child, acceleration can be the key to driving home at a speed that allows the wind to blow in the sunroof, with a smile on your face.