An important part of the discussion concerning skipping a grade includes considering how the transition to acceleration might occur. Grade-skipping happens after careful discussion and planning, with contributions from a team that includes teachers, administrators, and parents. These team members play an important role in developing the transition plan.
Some schools have a formal transition plan document that the team completes as part of the discussion. If there is not a specific form to complete, below is a list of items that can be included in the transition planning discussion.
- Answering the receiving teacher’s questions. This teacher might be uncertain about how to support the accelerated student, if the teacher has no previous experience with grade-skipping. The student’s current teacher might meet with the receiving teacher to make suggestions about ways to support the student, specific strengths, concerns the student has, etc.
- Opportunities for the student to visit the new classroom and meet the new teacher before the acceleration occurs.
- Other transition activities might include a tour of the school (if the student will move to a new building), learning about the cafeteria system, learning how to use a locker, and other activities that might help the student to become more comfortable in the new environment.
- Support for the student, and a go-to person (such as the school counselor) if the student wants to chat about any concerns.
- Identifying and filling in any academic gaps. Diagnostic testing will help to document gaps. The student might need time to meet individually with a teacher to learn new content, have questions answered, and clear up any misunderstandings about the content. It should be noted that the beginning of the school year is often a time for review for all students, and this review period will also help fill in the student’s gaps, if the acceleration will occur early in the year.
- Trial period. Educators often plan for a trial period of 4 to 6 weeks before the decision to skip a grade is finalized. This amount of time allows the student to adjust to new routines and the new level of challenge. It is common for a student to feel somewhat overwhelmed or discouraged at first. Those feelings are normal.
- Regular check-ins with the student. These might occur weekly or even daily at first.
- Regular communication with the family.
- Someone specifically assigned to monitor the transition. This is often the person who facilitated the team meeting in which the grade-skipping decision was made. This individual would be responsible for any follow-up and check-ins with the student as well as others who need to be made aware of the student’s progress and the success of the acceleration.
- After the student has moved into the new grade, it will be helpful for the student and parents to meet with the school counselor to discuss the acceleration as well as how it might have an impact on course scheduling now and in the future.
Indicators of a successful acceleration include:
- The student is motivated and enthusiastic about the acceleration and is challenged (but not overly frustrated) by the new academic work.
- The student makes new friends but keeps old friends.
- The student has a positive attitude about school.
You might be interested in learning more about the recently-launched online Integrated Acceleration System, which facilitates a discussion about four forms of academic acceleration (grade-skipping, early entrance to kindergarten, early entrance to college, and subject acceleration). Sign up here to receive updates about this new online system and more information about academic acceleration. We post a blog about acceleration approximately twice a month.
Interested in learning even more about acceleration? The Belin-Blank Center offers a 3-semester-hour graduate course on academic acceleration each summer. The course will be taught entirely online over an 8-week period. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details about the class and about enrollment.
We would like to thank Wendy Behrens and Dr. Randy Lange for helpful discussions contributing to this article.
Article updated 11/4/22.