A Nation Deceived, One Year Later
In late 2004, the Belin-Blank Center at the University of Iowa released the report "A Nation Deceived" showing how educational research supported accelerating gifted students. Written by experts Nicholas Colangelo, Susan Assouline and Miraca Gross, the report was designed to convince mainstream educators that skipping grades wouldn't cause children to became wounded psychopaths, wouldn't require anyone to stop worshipping that golden calf of "socialization" and would help kids learn better, to boot. (These are my words ... this is a serious academic report...).
A year later, the authors released a follow-up survey, which you can find in PowerPoint form here.
Let's just say the authors are a little tough on themselves. Of the 2500 respondents who were interested in the topic, 50% said the report had no noticeable impact. More said the report was not changing policies and procedures regarding acceleration in a positive direction than said it was. And while a majority said the report had a positive impact on educators in the field of gifted education, only 1% said it had a strong positive impact on educators outside the field.
The problem with this, of course, is that it does little good to have the gifted coordinator who travels between three schools conducting pull-out programs think acceleration is swell. You need the teacher of a gifted third grader to think it's a good solution, and the teacher of the fifth grade class where she'll be moving to, to accept it as well.
Advocates for gifted education are up against a tough wall here. A surveyed parent commented that she presented the findings to her son's district only to hear "Well, I'm sure there is just as much evidence against acceleration if we looked."
So what's to be done? Research alone can't change minds when educators have stuck in their heads the tale of "one child" who skipped a grade years ago and was miserable.
Families who've accelerated a child and had a good experience need to share their stories too. We need to trumpet these tales in the popular media. We need to talk about them at teachers colleges and conventions and portray grade skipping as a cheap way to meet kids' needs while lessening the headaches on teachers (dealing with vast differences in skill levels is tougher than dealing with a little difference in age). These stories will also help parents who wonder what to do for their kids, but fret that acceleration will harm them.
If anyone has some good stories of acceleration, please share!