Tag Archives: policy

I Think My Child Needs to Skip a Grade

Recently, we received this email:

My son just finished second grade. I think he needs to skip a grade and start fourth grade in the fall.  We are looking for help in requesting a whole grade skip.  I have learned that acceleration is not mandated in my state. How should we start? Is there a formal way of putting in my application?

The Belin-Blank Center doesn’t provide a formal application for acceleration that will work in every state, but we can give you some direction to get you started.

First, learn about the policies in your state and your school or district. Are there policies regarding acceleration on the state or local level?  A good place to begin is the policy page on the Acceleration Institute website.

Gather some information about acceleration, so you have an understanding of the research and how acceleration can be used with gifted students. Over the last 70 years, an impressive body of research has been built up that demonstrates that acceleration is an effective tool for challenging gifted students. An excellent place to start learning about that is A Nation Empowered. Volume 1 includes an overview of acceleration and is suitable for sharing with busy administrators and others who might be looking for a summary on acceleration. Volume 2 includes the research behind this option.  This research demonstrates that acceleration helps gifted students to maximize their academic potential; it also shows that acceleration does not cause a negative impact on social/emotional development.

Keep the lines of communication open. Meet with your child’s teacher, gifted coordinator, and/or principal. Learn about the options in your school. Share with them your concerns about ensuring your child is challenged in school. Understand that these professionals might not have been exposed to much information about acceleration in their training, so some of the information you have discovered might be new to them.

Go through the decision-making process. If a student is a candidate for a whole-grade skip, we advocate using the Iowa Acceleration Scale. This tool was developed specifically to address this question and helps families and educators to work together to consider aspects of development that are important in a decision about grade skipping. These include the student’s ability, aptitude, and achievement, as well as developmental factors, physical and social development, and support from the school and family.

Alternatively, or perhaps in addition to a conversation about a whole grade skip, you might think about subject acceleration. Moving ahead in one or more subjects might be the best alternative for a student who isn’t ready for a whole grade skip or has already skipped a grade, but needs additional challenge in a particular subject. An important tool for this discussion is above-level testing.

No discussion of acceleration is complete without considering social development—this is typically the first concern people mention when we start discussing any type of acceleration, especially grade-skipping.  Research shows that carefully selected students who accelerate do just fine socially. There might be a short adjustment period for the student, but the students typically adjust just as well socially or somewhat better socially than their chronologically older grade-mates. These students fit in just fine.

After collecting the appropriate data and participating in thorough discussions with educators and administrators, you should come to a consensus about what is the best decision for your child. Whatever the decision is now, remember that you might need to revisit it again in the future. A student who skips a grade now might need additional acceleration at some later point, or a student who isn’t accelerated now might need acceleration in the future. Also, remember that acceleration doesn’t solve all issues around challenging talented students.  Your child might still benefit from academic summer programs, additional enrichment in school, concurrent enrollment, individually-paced instruction in a strength area, etc. The goal is to challenge the student systematically throughout the school years.


Assouline, S. G., Colangelo, N., VanTassel-Baska, J., & Lupkowski-Shoplik, A. (2015). A nation empowered: Evidence trumps the excuses holding back America’s brightest students. Iowa City, IA: Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development. www.nationempowered.org 

Assouline, S. G., & Lupkowski-Shoplik, A. (2011). Developing Math Talent (2nd ed.). Waco, TX: Prufrock Press.

See www.accelerationinstitute.org for more evidence. 

Sen. Grassley Introduces Bill to Support Gifted and High-Ability Students

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced bipartisan legislation to support gifted and high-ability students, especially those who are underrepresented and underserved, on April 14.

The legislation, known as the TALENT (To Aid Gifted and High-Ability Learners by Empowering the Nation’s Teachers) Act (S. 857), will:

  • Require states and local districts that receive Title I funding – those that serve a high proportion of students from disadvantaged settings – to include gifted and talented and high-potential learners in their plans for using the federal funds.
  • Require states to report on the performance and learning progress of gifted students on their annual state report cards.
  • Take the critical step to make sure teachers, principals, and other school personnel are trained to recognize and serve gifted and high-ability students appropriately by supporting the development of best practice strategies and helping states and districts get those strategies into the hands of teachers through national dissemination efforts and professional development grants.
  • Collect appropriate data on high-ability students to enable policymakers and educators to make informed decisions.

The bill is sponsored by Grassley and Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) in the Senate.  The TALENT Act is expected to be introduced in the House of Representatives by Elton Gallegly (R-CA) and Donald Payne (D-NJ).

The Belin-Blank Center applauds Sen. Grassley for his leadership on the TALENT Act and thanks him for his long-standing support of high-ability students.

Please urge your Members of Congress to cosponsor this important piece of legislation.

Iowa’s Representatives

Iowa’s Senators

Outside of Iowa

Visit www.house.gov and www.senate.gov for email addresses and other contact information for your Members of Congress.

For more information about the TALENT Act, visit http://www.nagc.org/index.aspx?id=7804.

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.