Tag Archives: a nation deceived

What About Early Entrance to Kindergarten?

Portal to Another World

Parents who are considering early entrance to kindergarten for their children have a lot of questions! They are certainly concerned whether or not this is the right decision for their child, and they wonder how to make the decision.

1. One of the myths we hear is that precocious preschoolers no longer stand out a few years after they enter school. People might say that the other students “catch up” once they reach 1st or 2nd grade. Do talented 4-year-olds actually plateau in their learning and end up not being that far ahead of their peers?

This question comes up frequently, especially with younger students who are just entering school. In a nutshell, the answer is “no.” Gifted students tend to perform better than average students all the way through school. The caveat here is that they thrive when they are consistently challenged. If left to languish in an under-stimulating classroom, they don’t do as well. Gifted students need a challenging environment, and early entrance to kindergarten might provide just the challenge needed.

2. What types of schools are most receptive to having students skip grades or enter kindergarten early?

 Schools differ remarkably on this, and, unless there is a specific written policy on early entrance to school or grade-skipping in general, the response might depend on the administrator. For example, a school may not have a policy specifically supporting early entrance to kindergarten, but a given principal might be very receptive to the idea and work carefully with families that might need that option.  A huge public school system might have the resources to challenge students effectively, but it might have a policy in place that prevents students from entering school early. A small, under-resourced school with an innovative principal and small classrooms might provide exactly what a student needs. Parents need to spend some time researching the schools in their area and asking questions concerning early entrance to school.  Volume 1 of A Nation Empowered (www.nationempowered.org) is a quick read and provides a lot of information supporting various types of acceleration and is an ideal resource to provide to a busy principal or administrator.

3. How do we figure out if my child should enter kindergarten early?

 There are lots of great resources that can help you with this important decision. First, see the Acceleration Institute website:  www.accelerationinstitute.org. Look for the section for parents (http://accelerationinstitute.org/parents.aspx) and Questions and Answers (http://www.accelerationinstitute.org/Resources/QA/).  Also, look at the chapter on whole-grade acceleration and early entrance to kindergarten in Volume 2 of A Nation Empowered (www.nationempowered.org). The book is available for purchase, and it is also available as a free download from the website. There is also a tool specifically designed to help families and schools make good decisions about grade-skipping and early entrance to school, the Iowa Acceleration Scale (http://www.accelerationinstitute.org/Resources/IAS.aspx).

4. Is it possible to find schools who will provide a more customized education while allowing my child to be surrounded by age-peers?

 Yes. They might be public, private, or parochial schools. Again, you’ll need to do some research in your area to find the best fit.  Additionally, take a look at acceleration policy information provided here:  http://www.accelerationinstitute.org/Resources/Policy/By_State/Default.aspx. It will help to be informed about policies in your state, if you are going to approach a public school with your questions. This article presents data about state cutoff dates for kindergarten entry: http://ecs.force.com/mbdata/mbquestRT?rep=Kq1402

5. What types of questions should we be asking when looking for schools that are the right fit and can accommodate a precocious preschooler?

This website is helpful:  http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/choose_school.htm

In fact, I encourage you to explore the Hoagies gifted website in general. It’s chock-full of information!  See:  Info about early entrance to kindergarten: http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/kindergarten.htm and the Blog Hop on acceleration (the individual stories from families are great!): http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/blog_hop_acceleration.htm

You might also enjoy reading one parent’s experience with early entrance to kindergarten: http://tinyurl.com/kgzlwbo. The author discusses concerns such as physical development and social development. The last paragraph concludes, “One principal I spoke with was honest about this.  ‘We used to test children for kindergarten readiness, but there were too many problems when a child didn’t qualify for kindergarten.  Now we just use a cutoff date.’  Our children deserve better than this.”

Additional Resources

Message from the Director: The 4 “D’s” of Working With Highly Able Students

To fulfill our mission of “empowering and serving the gifted education community through exemplary leadership in programs, research, and advocacy,” the Belin-Blank Center relies on a 4-D service delivery model:

  • Discover individuals with high ability in a talent domain;
  • Develop the talent domain;
  • Describe, through research, the characteristics of individuals with high ability;
  • Disseminate, through writing and presentations, the results of our research and services.

Some months, it seems as though the Belin-Blank Center administrative staff and faculty are “disseminating” material on an almost daily basis.  Since the fall semester began, we have offered presentations both near (in the Blank Honors Center and on the UI campus) and far (Columbus, Ohio, at the Ohio Association for Gifted Children Conference).  Just a few days ago, the Belin-Blank Center administrative team disseminated our message at the Iowa Talented and Gifted Conference in Des Moines, and in early November, we’ll give more than a dozen presentations at the National Association for Gifted Children Conference (NAGC) in Indianapolis, IN.  In this issue of Vision, you’ll also read about five upcoming international presentations or workshops (The Netherlands, The Philippine Islands, Portugal, Australia, and India) that will be provided by Drs. Assouline, Croft, or Colangelo.

Of course, there is a lot of buzz, and a great deal of work, associated with the forthcoming Wallace Research and Policy Symposium (March 22-25, 2013).  Registration is now open!

Other “dissemination” products include the Gifted Child Quarterly special issue on twice-exceptionality, guest edited by Associate Professor Megan Foley Nicpon.  Usually a peer-reviewed journal is only accessible to the members of the professional organization; however, through the end of December, NAGC has made the special issue available for free download at http://gcq.sagepub.com/content/current.  In addition to the special issue on twice-exceptionality, NAGC has three new books on the core curriculum and gifted students including A Teacher’s Guide to Using the Common Core State Standards with Mathematically Gifted and Advanced Learners, co-authored by Professors Susan K. Johnsen, Gail R. Ryser, and Susan G. Assouline.

Stay tuned for the iBook release of Volume 1 of A Nation Deceived as well as the second edition of Packet of Information for Professionals (PIP-2), a comprehensive booklet that addresses the complex learning and socialization needs of high-ability students with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a specific learning disorder (SLD), or an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

These dissemination products take a great deal of time and energy, but they are well worth the effort because they are so important in fulfilling our mission.  None of this would be possible without the tremendous commitment of the team of professionals – our faculty, administrative and clerical staff, and our undergraduate and graduate students.  I thank our staff for their dedication to serving high-ability students, their families, and the professionals who serve them.

National Candidate’s Reply Date is Coming Up!

As many of you know, May 1st is the deadline for many students to make their final decision as to which college they will attend. For students entering college a year or more early, it is also the beginning of a form of academic acceleration: early entrance to college.

There are several early entrance programs across the country, one of which is the Belin-Blank Center’s National Academy of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering (NAASE), which offers students an opportunity to start college after their junior year of high school.

For more information on early entrance to college, check out the Institute for Research and Policy on Acceleration’s Video Stories of Acceleration, which include interviews with NAASE students. And read Chapter 10: Early Entrance to College: Academic, Social, and Emotional Considerations from Volume II of A Nation Deceived, which is available for free download.

The Belin-Blank Center Supports Acceleration

Dr. Maureen Marron

Dr. Maureen Marron,
Associate Research Scientist,
Institute for Research & Policy on Acceleration

For over a decade, the Belin-Blank Center has been committed to advocating for academic acceleration for high-ability students. We put our support behind acceleration because it is an effective intervention that benefits high-ability students academically and socially.

Since 2006, the Institute for Research and Policy on Acceleration (IRPA) at the Belin-Blank Center has served as a central location for acceleration research and advocacy. IRPA’s activities are designed to answer three questions:

1. What is acceleration? In A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America’s Brightest Students (download at no cost), we define acceleration, report on its effectiveness, and refute misconceptions.

2. Is acceleration the right choice for my student? IRPA has created instruments, books, and guides to assist with acceleration decisions, including IDEAL® Solutions for Math Acceleration, the Iowa Acceleration Scale (3rd ed.), and Developing Math Talent (2nd ed.).

3. How can school policy be written to include acceleration? In 2009, we collaborated with the National Association for Gifted Children, and the Council of State Directors of Programs for the Gifted to produce Guidelines for Developing an Academic Acceleration Policy.

The Guidelines document (in print or online at no cost) presents recommendations in five key areas for developing an acceleration policy and provides an easy-to-use Checklist for Developing an Academic Acceleration Policy. Contact me (maureen-marron@uiowa.edu) to make arrangements for copies to share with your school board, administrators, or attendees at your state talented-and-gifted association conference.

This is an abbreviated explanation of IRPA’s activities. Please visit www.accelerationinstitute.org to learn more about acceleration and our activities.