The Belin-Blank Center recently hosted the Belin-Blank Advanced Leadership Institute. The theme this year was, “A Nation Empowered: Research-Based Evidence about Acceleration and Gifted/Talented Students.” During the Pre-Institute, we spent a whole afternoon talking about the Iowa Acceleration Scale. Many of the people attending the session had already used the IAS, and they were looking for answers to specific questions or they simply wanted a “booster shot” of best practices concerning the scale. Some of the major points made in the session include:
- Become informed about the research. We have over 60 years of research on acceleration, and it is consistently positive. Knowing the research helps us to make well-informed, data-driven decisions for students.
- Prepare your team for the meeting. Nobody likes surprises. Help them to understand the purpose of the meeting and the information you would like them to bring to the meeting.
- Provide information about acceleration. It’s helpful to give team members some basic information about grade skipping (see resources listed below).
- Collect all profile information before the meeting to use everyone’s time well at the meeting.
- Talk with the student about the acceleration. The student plays a critical role in making the acceleration experience successful or unsuccessful. Find out if the student is on board and if he or she has any questions or concerns.
- Schedule enough time for the meeting. This is an important decision worthy of thoughtful discussion.
- Pre-plan other options. For example, if there is a possibility that the student might be subject accelerated (rather than skip a grade), it would be helpful to think through issues such as transportation and scheduling before the meeting so the team doesn’t get sidetracked with related issues or questions.
- Select a receiving teacher. This person is critical to the success of an acceleration.
- Support the receiving teacher. Some teachers feel a little bit intimidated by the fact that they will have a younger student in their class, and they might have questions about how best to support the student and to help the other students in the class welcome the young student.
- Follow-up with parents, teachers, and student. It is very helpful to schedule a specific time period that serves as a “trial period” for the acceleration. The team should take the time to meet again about the accelerated student and discuss what is working well and how they can make things go more smoothly.
The Iowa Acceleration Scale is an instrument designed to guide the discussion about academic acceleration. The IAS is not a test; it is designed to help the child study team members think about the various aspects of acceleration (for example, academic development, social development, physical development, etc.). http://www.accelerationinstitute.org/Resources/IAS.aspx
A Nation Deceived: This 2-volume set published in 2004 provides research and practical information about acceleration. Volume 1 includes some of the myths (and responses) relevant to acceleration. Volume 2 includes research findings. www.nationdeceived.org
A Nation Empowered: Published in 2015. Volume 1 includes stories about acceleration and is a “quick read” for busy administrators and others looking for an introduction to the topic of acceleration. Volume 2 provides the updated research. www.nationempowered.org