The practice of educational acceleration has long been used to match appropriate learning opportunities with student abilities. The goals of acceleration are to adjust the pace of instruction to the students capability, to provide and appropriate level of challenge, and to reduce the time period necessary for students to complete traditional schooling. When acceleration has been effective in achieving these goals, highly capable individuals are prepares to begin contributing to society at an earlier age. Although instructional adaptations, such as compacting, telescoping, and curriculum revision which allow more economic use of time, are desirable practices for exceptionally talented students, there are situations in which such modifications are insufficient to fulfill the academic potential of all highly capable children. personal accelerations is called for in these cases.
Personal acceleration involves moving a student through the traditional educational organization more quickly and includes such practices as grade skipping, concurrent enrollment in two grades, early entrance into kindergarten or college, credit by examination, combining three years of middle school into two, acceleration in particular content areas, and dual enrollment in high school and college. Students may be accelerated in one discipline or across disciplines.
Research documents the academic benefits and positive outcomes of personal acceleration for carefully selected students. Decisions about the appropriateness of personal acceleration should include examination of student preferences and disposition relative to the decision, the students intellectual and academic profile, and social readiness. Other factors which enhance the success of personal acceleration are positive attitudes of teachers, timeliness of the decision, parent support, and the careful monitoring of new placements with a clearly articulated option to return to the earlier setting without penalty.
Opportunities to learn must be offered to all children. Accordingly, highly able students with capability and motivation to succeed in placements beyond traditional age/grade parameters should be provided the opportunity to enroll in intellectually appropriate classes and educational settings.